Nate Oats’ Alabama Crimson Tide improved their record to 2-0 on the season, the first time in his three year tenure that Bama has won their first two games, by defeating South Dakota State 104-88 on Friday night. The Tide started slowly and shot poorly in the first half, but cranked things up in the second half to put away the pesky, veteran Jackrabbits.
Oats used the same starting lineup from opening night: Jahvon Quinerly, Jaden Shackelford, Keon Ellis, Noah Gurley, and Charles Bediako. South Dakota State returned nine players that averaged 10 or more points a game last year and is favored to win the Summit League this year. They had 10 players play 10 or more minutes against Alabama. The Tide’s rotation was shortened chiefly by super sub Juwan Gary suffering an ankle injury after only playing seven minutes of the game. Oats said Gary’s injury was a soft tissue issue and they are not sure how long he will be out. Seven players played the majority of the minutes for the Tide.
Bama led for the majority of the first half until the Jackrabbits took a 36-32 lead with 3:15 left in the period. Darius Miles, taking advantage of extra minutes with Gary out, jump started the Tide, hitting a three with 1:06 left for a 37-36 Bama lead. The teams went into the locker room with Alabama ahead 41-38. In the first half Bama shot 18-42 for 43%, 5-21 from deep for 23% and did not attempt a free throw. Ellis had nine rebounds at the break. South Dakota State shot 16-37 for 42% including 4-18 (22%) from three and made both of their free throw attempts.
Quinerly had a less than stellar first half, but came alive after intermission. The junior point guard made two three pointers around a Bediako basket and Shackelford three to push the lead out to 54-42 with 16:43 left. Every time it felt like the Tide was going to put the game away the veteran Jackrabbits fought back to keep the game in range. Bama went on a 10-0 and 11-0 run during the half, spearheaded by deft passing from freshman phenom JD Davison and shooting from Quinerly, Ellis, Miles, and Shackelford. SDS cut a big lead to 87-77 with 4:34 left but could get no closer. Quinerly was getting to the rim and finishing at will, finishing with a game high 26 points.
In the second half the Tide improved to 23-43 for 55% and 8-19 for 42% from three point range, but made only 9-14 free throws for 64%. For the game the team finished 41-84 for 49%, 13-40 for 33% from deep and 9-14 from the line. Bama had 47 rebounds including 18 on the offensive end, 19 assists, four steals, three blocks, and remarkably only eight turnovers despite the breakneck pace of the game. The Rabbits shot 18-33 for 55% in the second half including 5-13 from deep and 9-16 from the line. SDS also finished at 49%- 34-70, 9-31 for 29% from deep and 11-18 from the line with 38 rebounds, 15 assists, four steals, two blocks, and 11 turnovers.
Individually Quinerly finished with 26 points, eight assists, and five rebounds in 34 minutes. Shackelford tossed in 23 points and added five rebounds. Ellis won the hard hat award, had a plus/minus of +26, and had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds along with three assists. Miles finished with 13 points in 18 minutes with four rebounds and a plus/minus of +19. Bediako was the fifth player in double digits with 12 points with six rebounds, a block, and a defensive presence down low all night. Gurley shook off a miserable first game and a half to finish with nine points and five rebounds.
Davison didn't shoot well at only 2-7, and 0-4 from deep, but pushed the ball and made several highlight level passes.
Nice off-ball defensive instincts by 6-3 + 19-year-old Alabama freshman guard prospect JD Davison, who left his man, stole the ball, ignited the transition break + set up his teammate for the basket. Davison is 16th in @DraftExpress’ latest 2022 mock >> https://t.co/AtsPzeDP0p pic.twitter.com/4zfWibSHrT— DraftExpressContent (@DXContent) November 13, 2021
The freshman finished with six points with five assists and five rebounds.
What a fun team this is to watch. The team is so versatile and athletic, a different player may lead them in scoring each game. One constant is Keon Ellis as a legitimate superstar, a true two way player who always seems to be under control. Quinerly is explosive and can have a 25 point game at the drop of a hat. Shackelford is a scorer first and foremost and uses his strength to get to the hoop, and is a high volume three point shooter. Davison is a star in the making and almost assuredly will be gone in the draft next summer. Enjoy him while you can.
Hopefully the energizer bunny, Gary, won't miss much time. His physicality and hustle are definitely needed. After a so-so first game Bediako showed flashes of what he can do. When was the last post player with game that you remember at Alabama? Tonight he showed good footwork, toughness, and an ability to score at the rim. Miles is instant offense and now is 6-7 on three point shots in two games. Gurley needs to provide toughness on the boards and defense and if he can start to hit shots that will be a bonus.
The Tide will continue their home stand next week with two games, Tuesday at 6:30 vs South Alabama and Friday at 7 p.m. vs Oakland. Both are ESPN+ games. Oakland beat Oklahoma State tonight, so the tough stretch doesn't get any easier before facing Gonzaga, Houston, and Memphis all before the first of the year. The opening night crowd was listed at 12,600 and last night’s was over 10,000. In both cases the atmosphere was unlike anything i’ve seen in Coleman since the glory days of Wimp Sanderson and the Plaid Palace. If you get a chance, try to get to a game, if not two or three, this year. Oats is really building a special program.
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