The Alabama Crimson Tide improved to 4-0 on the young season with a dominating 104-62 victory over the Jacksonville State Gamecocks on Friday night. Freshman superstar Brandon Miller lead the way with big assists from Mark Sears, Nimari Burnett, and Noah Clowney. Miller, Sears, Burnett, and Clowney were joined in the starting lineup by Charles Bediako.
The Tide started off hot with Miller and Burnett hitting early three point shots, but JSU came out firing and were shooting lights out to begin the game. The Gamecocks held a lead of 24-19 when Sears and Burnett hit back to back shots from long range and the Tide was off and running, never to trail again. At halftime Bama held a lead of 51-39 and Sears had poured in 16 points aided by four makes from long range.
In the first three games of the season, the Tide had held their opponents to under 60 points. With 39 points allowed in the first 20 minutes, that stat was in grave danger. In the first stanza, the Tide 18-31 for 58% including 12-22 from deep for 55% but did make only 3-6 from the free throw line. The Cocks shots 12-27 for 44% with 7-14 from three and also made 8-10 from the free throw line.
In the second half, Jaden Bradley replaced Bediako with the first five. Bama came out firing on all cylinders and quickly put the game away. Burnett and Miller traded three point makes and were joined by Jahvon Quinerly, who scored his first points of the season with two shots from long range sandwiched around a follow and slam from Miller.
By the time Miller finally came down to earth he had scored 20 points in the first nine minutes of the second half and the Tide had a lead of 84-53. Burnett heated up and had his best game of his Alabama career. Clowney was grabbing every rebound in sight and the Tide defense clamped down hard on JSU after intermission. With just over two minutes remaining Coach Nate Oats emptied the bench with Bama leading 93-55. Jaden Quinerly, little brother of Jahvon, put the Tide at the century mark with a banked in free throw with 1:31 left in the game. Adam Cottrell made a steal and went the length of the court for a basket, and Delaney Heard nailed a jump shot for the Tide’s last basket. The Gamecocks were able to break the 60 mark by making four free throws in the last minute.
Bama cooled off to 16-35 for 46% in the second half with 9-24 from three while making 12-15 free throws. For the game the Tide was 34-66 for 52%, 21-46 for 46% from three- just one off the school record for three pointers made in a game-and 15-21 for 71% from the charity stripe. After grabbing over 60 rebounds twice in their first there games the men in Crimson had “only” 45 on Friday night, and had their best game of the year in assists with 23 while committing 13 turnovers-most late in the game. Bama also blocked five shots and had six steals. A stellar display of defensive intensity by the Tide held JSU to 7-27 from the field in the second half, including 2-10 from three points range, and 7-11 from the free throw line. Overall the visitors shot 19-54 for 35%, 9-24 from three for 37%, and 15-21 on free shots for 71%. Jacksonville grabbed 22 rebounds, had six steals, no blocks and 13 turnovers.
Individually Miller continued the amazing start to his Bama career with 28 points on 9-12 shooting while making 7-9 from three point range. Miller had eight rebounds, three assists and a block, all in just 25 minutes of action and also took home the teams hard hat award for effort points. Sears shot 6-14 with 4-10 from deep for 18 points with three assists, a steal and a block. Burnett logged 23 minutes and tossed in 18 points on 5-6 from three point range with four rebounds and a steal and block. Clowney continued the impressive start to his freshman campaign with eight points and a game high 10 rebounds in 22 minutes. Rylan Griffen had nine points and six rebound despite shooing only 2-9 in the game. Bradley filled up the stat sheet in 20 minutes with seven points, six boards, and five assists. Quinerly made 2-3 three point shots and scored six points with a team high eight assists in only 17 minutes.
Despite the slow start, the defense and rebounding were once again outstanding. Paired with outstanding shooting, it made this the Tide’s best all around game of the young season. Although it seems that the football team has spent all season looking for some “dogs” it appears this basketball squad is full of them. Clowney is a beast on the boards, Sears and Bradley are both gritty, tough players and Miller is simply a star. With Quinerly back in at least a limited role that leaves Dom Welch and Darius Miles as the last two players on the disabled list. Both were wearing boots on the bench tonight.
The competition is about to ramp up considerably for the Tide as the go to Portland, OR to play in the Phil Knight Invitational over Thanksgiving. Bama draws Michigan State first and will play them at 9:30 p.m. CT on Thursday night with the TV channel to be announced. Bama would next play whether Oregon or UConn depending on who wins and loses on Friday. The tournament will wrap up on Sunday and Bama could face North Carolina or Villanova.