The Alabama Crimson Tide beat Drake 80-71 in game two of the Invitational Tournament in Orlando. Coach Nate Oats changed up his starting lineup for the first time this season, inserting Juwan Gary for Noah Gurley to go along with Jaden Shackelford, Jahvon Quinerly, Keon Ellis, and Charles Bediako.
After a slow start for both teams, Bama went on a 15-0 run to take a 25-14 lead with 7:39 left in the half. Poor free throw shooting reared its ugly head again, keeping the Tide from taking even a bigger margin. Quinerly hit a three with 4:36 remaining for a 31-18 lead, but Drake ripped off a 11-0 run to close the half as the Tide didn't score for the last three plus minutes.
In the first half the Tide shot 14-29 from the field for 48%, including 3-10 from three and only 2-6 from the free throw line. Bama had 15 rebounds, five assists, six seals, four blocks, and 11 turnovers- seven of those committed by J D Davison alone. Drake hit 12-28 for 42%. 2-7 from deep, and 3-4 free throws, had 16 rebounds. four assists, five steals, and 12 turnovers of their own.
Bama came out and pushed the lead to 40-33 with 17:10 left before Drake took advantage of more Tide turnovers and missed free throws to close the gap. Davison had a stretch of about three minutes where he took his man off the dribble to the hole for a couple of baskets and a dish to Gary for a hoop. Drake tied things up at 50-50 with 10:50 left and things started to get a little hairy.
The Bulldogs got hot and took a 56-52 lead with 8;56 left, but the Tide did not fold. Ellis hit a long three to tie things a 57 with 8 minutes left. Gurley hit his second long jump shot- both with his toe on the line- to grab the 59-57 lead at the under eight timeout.
Gurley scored on a nice drive, and missed the ensuing free throw-fir a 63-61 lead with 4:56 that the Tide did not relinquish. Two Ellis free throws, a Quinerly three, a Shack steal and layup over the next minute gave Bama a comfortable 10 point lead with just over two minutes left. The team hit enough free throws and took good enough care of the ball in the last two minutes to hold on for the nine point win.
The Tide heated up to 19-29 in the second half but hit only 2-9 from deep and 11-16 from the free throw line. For the game Bama finished 31-57 for 54%, only 5-19 from three and 13-22 from the free throw line. The team finished with 35 rebounds. 11 assists, eight steals, six blocks, and 17 turnovers, but just six in the second stanza. Drake finished 27-63 for 42%, 7-19 from deep for 37%, and made only 10-17 free throws. The Bulldogs had 33 rebounds, 10 assists. seven steals, one block, and 15 turnovers.
Quinerly led the way with 18 points and four assists. Shackelford scored 13 and added five rebounds and four assists. Gary made the most of his start with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, two steals, and more hustle than could be measured. Ellis added nine points and six boards. Gurley showed signs of life with eight points on 4-6 shooting. Davison made some highlight plays and some head scratching mistakes, but looks more and more comfortable with each passing game. The mercurial freshman had seven points, five rebounds, three assists- and seven turnovers in 21 minutes.
This should show to be a quality win down the road. Drake is a good veteran team that is picked to win their league. Gary brings toughness and hustle that will be greatly needed as the season goes forward. Davison showed explosion and strength but still needs work on his jump shot and has to take better care of the ball. Ellis has been solid in Orlando but needs to be more aggressive offensively. Oats seems to be working with an eight man rotation for now, with Keon Ambrose-Hylton seeing only 17 seconds of action in the two games. Alex Tchikou was in for only 17 seconds in game one and Jusuan Holt hasn't left the bench in Orlando. Miles, Davison, and Gurley, or Holt, seem to be the bench for now.
The Tide will play Sunday against Miami at 5:30 p.m. CT. As of now we are not sure of viewing options.
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