Men’s basketball looks to bounce back Saturday versus Jacksonville State

Austin Hannon, Staff Reporter

The Alabama Crimson Tide (8-2) were issued a wake-up call when they traveled to Memphis on Tuesday. Alabama head coach Nate Oats’ bunch was beaten down by the Tigers 92-78 in Alabama’s first loss since Nov. 25.

After the game, Oats said things needed to change and his team needed more leadership and responsibility. He said his players have some “growing up to do.”

“I didn’t think we had the effort that we did the two previous games,” Oats said. “I just thought our overall energy was not where it needed to be against Memphis. We’ve got to get better. And it can’t be a one-day-of-practice or two-days-of-practice kind of thing. It’s got to become who we are.”

Guard Keon Ellis said the team’s problems stem from not preparing hard enough before games.

“We can’t just try to bring it all on game day,” Ellis said. “We’ve got to lead in by having great practices and attacking film. We’ve got to be locked in before it’s time to go out and play.”

The still-sixth-ranked Crimson Tide will have an opportunity to get back on track with the Jacksonville State Gamecocks out of the ASUN Conference.

The Gamecocks (5-5) hail from Jacksonville, Alabama, which is 76 miles northeast of Birmingham.

Jacksonville State started its season against a fellow 8-2 squad, Wichita State, and lost on a game-winning 3-pointer.

Alabama is a good perimeter-shooting team, but Jacksonville State can shoot just as well. The Gamecocks are 16th in the country in 3-point percentages, at 39.3% as a team.

If that’s not enough to worry Alabama fans, Oats said the Gamecocks are the perfect team to test his guys.

“We’re looking forward to Jacksonville State,” Oats said. “Ray [Harper] does an unbelievable job everywhere. He’s been getting his guys to play really hard. They’re going to be a hard playing group. They always play us tough. We’ve gotta do a way better job on the defensive glass because they’ve got some strong, physical guys.” 

Leading the Gamecocks on offense is guard Darian Adams, who averages 14.7 points per game and 4.4 assists. Adams shoots an impressive 41.3% from the 3.

Forward Brandon Huffman played three seasons for Roy Williams at North Carolina before transferring to Jacksonville State. The 6-foot-10, 255-pounder averages 10.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Huffman gets almost one block per game defending the paint.

Jacksonville State head coach Ray Harper is in his sixth season with the program following stints with Western Kentucky and Kentucky Wesleyan. Harper has a career record of 529-192 in 22 years of head coaching experience.

The Crimson Tide and the Gamecocks played in the season opener in 2020, with Alabama winning 81-57.

Gametime at Coleman Coliseum is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 18, at 7:30 p.m. CT. The game will also be televised on SEC Network.