Men’s basketball dominates in season opener against Louisiana Tech

Guard Keon Ellis goes for a layup in the season opener against Louisiana Tech on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

Courtesy of UA Athletics

Guard Keon Ellis goes for a layup in the season opener against Louisiana Tech on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

Austin Hannon, Staff Reporter

The Alabama Crimson Tide started its season on the right foot with an emphatic 93-64 win over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on Tuesday. 

Twenty minutes before tipoff, the program honored the life of the late Luke Ratliff, who died in April after a COVID-19-related hospitalization. Ratliff was the president of Crimson Chaos, Alabama Athletics’ student fan organization, and was known for being an Alabama basketball “superfan.” 

They placed a plaque on his old seat at Coleman Coliseum. 

The Crimson Tide came into the game ranked No. 14 in the AP Top 25. Louisiana Tech started the season unranked but finished fourth in last year’s National Invitation Tournament.

Alabama jumped out to a 12-6 lead after two 3s by guards Jaden Shackelford and Keon Ellis.

Then, seven minutes in, Louisiana Tech knotted the game up at 16. Forward Kenneth Lofton Jr. scored eight of the Bulldogs’ first 16 points. The Crimson Tide had no answer early on for him.

Over the next nine minutes, Alabama went on a 19-5 run to push the lead to 35-21 with 4:31 left in the first half. The Crimson Tide would take a 48-31 lead into halftime. Alabama made eight 3s in the first 20 minutes of action.

After Lofton sustained an injury in the first half, he was unable to play many minutes for the Bulldogs in the second half.

The Crimson Tide extended their lead further to 62-42 after the first six minutes of the second half, and began to take complete control of the game.

Alabama used the next 10 minutes to push their lead to 84-57.  It was time for the walk-on players to enter the game.

Coleman Coliseum erupted after Alabama head coach Nate Oats decided to substitute forward Tyler Barnes into the contest. Barnes scored four points.

After all was said and done, Ellis led the team with 18 points, with Shackelford adding 17 of his own. A total of five players scored in the double digits for the Crimson Tide.

Freshman JD Davison had a stat line of 12-6-6, which Ellis said is “not easy to do.”

One of the nation’s top shooting teams from a season ago picked up where they left off, shooting 50% from the field and knocking down 13 3-pointers.

The Crimson Tide also had 14 more rebounds than the Bulldogs, which Oats said had a lot to do with Lofton’s absence. Forward Juwan Gary grabbed 10 rebounds off of the bench.

This was a quality team, Louisiana Tech,” Oats said. “It was a really good game for us out of the gate. Plenty to work on, but a lot of positives. I thought our effort was great.”

Oats isn’t surprised by how well Ellis played on Tuesday. 

“I think everybody sees how good he can be,” Oats said. “Obviously you expect Shackelford and Quinerly — it’s what you’ve seen — but Keon Ellis getting more. I mean shoot, he was +37 tonight. On the plus-minus that’s unheard of. That’s some Herb Jones-type stuff there.”

Alabama’s next opponent will be the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, who will play in Coleman Coliseum on Friday, Nov. 12. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CT on SEC Network Plus+.