Following a bit of a slog against South Alabama in the last outing, Alabama came out of the gates committed to clamping down on the defensive end and getting the running game going against Oakland. It worked out pretty well too, as the TIde went into the break with a 38-26 lead. It wasn’t perfect to be sure as the Tide turned the ball over nine times in the first half and didn’t shoot the three particularly well, but they more than made up for it by dominating the paint. Jahvon Quinerly and Jaden Shackelford had two threes and a dozen points apiece in the first half, both making it to the rim almost at will.
Charles Bediako was as active on defense as we’ve seen thus far, blocking three first half shots and changing several others while acting as a general rim protector. He also threw down a gorgeous alley oop from JD Davison in transition that brought a roar from a lively home crowd. The defense was a team effort as the Golden Grizzlies made only nine field goals on 34 tries before the half.
Jaden Shackelford got things rolling in the second half with an alley oop to Noah Gurley followed by a three the hard way, and the Tide never looked back. They played a fast, inspired brand of basketball at both ends and pushed the lead out to 20 with 12 minutes to play. The Golden Grizzlies never made much of a run afterward, and fan favorite Tyler Barnes brought the house down with a late three to close out a 86-59 laugher.
Darius Miles forces a turnover and Bediako finishes in transition! pic.twitter.com/K58wWdhpgY— Hunter Cruse (@HunterCruse14) November 20, 2021
The turnovers were greatly reduced in the second half, which is a great sign that the team is finding a bit of continuity ahead of the murderous December slate that starts with Gonzaga, Houston and Memphis. The energy at both ends of the floor was palpable tonight, and that’s the kind of effort that will be required if this team is to reach its vast potential.
Next up is the ESPN Events Invitational in Orlando. The Tide will open with Rick Pitino’s Iona squad, last year’s first round NCAA opponent, on Thursday, followed by a game vs. Belmont or Drake on Friday and a likely championship tilt on Saturday. Hopefully they keep this momentum going.