Alabama holds off Houston in the final seconds


CW / David Gray

Guard JD Davison races down the court during Saturday night’s win over the Houston Cougars.

Austin Hannon, Staff Reporter

Over the years, it seems like Alabama was always on the wrong end of controversial calls in the last seconds of games. But tonight, the Crimson Tide (8-1) flipped the script on a game-saving block by guard JD Davison just before the clock hit zero, to defeat the No. 14 Houston Cougars (8-2) 83-82 in Coleman Coliseum Saturday night.

That block was one of many game-winning plays for both teams. Davison also had the game-winning basket on a put-back dunk. He finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.

“That was an unbelievable game,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “Our guys showed a lot of fight. That was probably the most physical game we’ll have all year. We didn’t do a great job on the glass, but we found a way to win. We wanna play in tough games like this. It’s a hard fought win. It’s a big win for the program.”

Guard Jahvon Quinerly was the one who missed the shot to set up the slam.

“I just looked up and seen him flying,” Quinerly said. “His athleticism is off the charts. Goes to show how JD Davison is coming along. He’s playing great basketball right now.”

If not for those two game-saving plays, there would be more talk about Quinerly’s performance. He scored 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting and also had eight assists.

Forward Juwan Gary’s career-high in points was 14. Gary finished as the team’s leading scorer with 19 points. He also added four rebounds.

Guard Jaden Shackelford scored 28 against Gonzaga last weekend. His hand was still warm against the Cougars. He finished with 18 points and shot 5-for-7 from three. He continues to be a strong rebounder for the team as well, grabbing eight more in the win.

The Cougars out-rebounded the Crimson Tide 43-34.

It was a late-tip off at Coleman Coliseum, but over 10,000 fans packed into the arena. It was an enormous factor throughout the game.

Alabama jumped out to a 13-7 lead after a Shackelford 3-pointer. The Crimson Tide led 18-11 with 13:26 left in the first half.

But Houston responded with a 12-6 run to cut the lead to one with just under eight minutes.

Then to the crowd’s roar, Alabama went back on top 38-30 after the final media timeout of the half.

But with the help of guard Marcus Sasser, the Cougars would go into the break with momentum, only trailing 44-41.

The second half was tighter than spandex on a sumo wrestler. 

Throughout the game, Houston had a lot of problems with fouling. Many of the fouls were reach-in fouls or loose ball fouls. The Cougars racked up five team fouls before the first media timeout. Houston finished the game with 28 fouls and had four players with four each.

The two teams traded the lead 14 times in the second frame, and neither side could grab a meaningful advantage.

With 52 seconds to play, Sasser knocked down a 3-pointer to give Houston an 82-81 lead.

On Alabama’s next and final possession, the ball was in the hands of Quinerly, who had the feverish hand, scoring 11 in the second half. His driving to the basket had been a problem for the Cougar defense. So that’s exactly where the Crimson Tide tried to attack again. This time, his attempt rolled off the rim.

But it was quickly thrown back down off of the hands of Davison, who soared in to give Alabama the 83-82 lead with 25 seconds remaining.

On the last possession guard Kyler Edwards heaved up a 3-pointer that was missed but rebounded by forward Fabian White Jr. White put the ball back up. Davison smacked the ball away and the horn sounded.

What happened next was complete chaos. The officials called the game final and ran off the court, but the Houston players, as well as head coach Kelvin Sampson, followed. Pushing through the crowd to the sound of “Rammer Jammer,” the Cougars plead their case with the referees but were sent away. 

Alabama won its second straight game against a top-15 team.

“That just went to show the toughness of our team,” Quinerly said. “JD getting that put-back dunk and then us getting a game-winning stop and rebound. That just shows the type of guys we have on our team, and how together we were in that moment.”

Alabama doesn’t have much time to think about the win, with a road date with the Memphis Tigers (5-4) looming on Tuesday night. The game is scheduled for Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN.