Men’s basketball grinds out win against Jacksonville State

Austin Hannon, Staff Reporter

It wasn’t the prettiest win of the season, but when the buzzer sounded on Saturday night, the scoreboard read 65-59 in favor of the Alabama Crimson Tide (9-2) over the Jacksonville State Gamecocks (5-6).

Alabama guard Keon Ellis led the way in an offensive struggle. He led the team with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Ellis scored 14 in the first half alone.

“I’m just trying to help my teammates out by making shots, even if they are struggling,” Ellis said.

Guard Jahvon Quinerly was huge for the Crimson Tide in the second half, scoring 11 of his 15 points in the second act. Quinerly finished the night as the assist leader for Alabama with four.

Guard Darius Miles finished the game with a +18 plus-minus, the highest on the team. He scored all 10 of his points in the second half.

It was a tough night for the other Alabama guards. Leading scorer Jaden Shackelford did not score a point in 34 minutes. JD Davison also struggled, scoring four on 1-for-7 shooting. Davison didn’t play in the second half following a knee sprain.

“He’s [Shackelford’s] a veteran player,” Ellis said. “He already knows what comes with it. Sometimes you have to shoot yourself out of a slump. We still have high confidence in him.”

Montgomery, Alabama, product Darian Adams led Jacksonville State in scoring like he has all season, scoring 18 on 7-for-16 shooting.

Forward Charles Bediako was big for Alabama on the defensive end, finishing with five blocks and two steals.

“Our biggest emphasis today was defense, especially rebounding,” Bediako said. “We had two great practices, so that definitely got me prepared for today.”

The first half was a mess for the Crimson Tide. After struggling on the road at Memphis in the previous game, Alabama looked weak offensively out of the gate. The Crimson Tide made just one field goal in the first five minutes of action.

Thanks to six straight points by Ellis, Alabama led 11-5 with 13:56 left in the first half. After nobody else pitched in, the Gamecocks took advantage.

A 15-2 run for Jacksonville State gave it a 20-13 lead with under eight minutes until halftime. The groans started from the more than 10,000 fans inside Coleman Coliseum.

The Crimson Tide trimmed the lead down to one with 5:22 to play, but the Gamecocks went on their own 7-2 run to take a 28-22 lead with 2:33 until the break.

A 7-0 run capped off by a Quinerly buzzer-beating 3-pointer put Alabama back on top by one at the end of one.

The game remained in striking distance the first 10 minutes of the second half, with Alabama leading the Gamecocks 42-41 with 10:26 to play. That’s when the Crimson Tide put together the key run of the game.

Alabama went on a 15-2 run and led Jacksonville State 57-43 after a Quinerly layup. 

Jacksonville State was able to cut the Alabama lead to six with 1:34 on the clock, but the Gamecocks ran out of time. 

“That was a tough game,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “I anticipated them playing hard. They caused us some problems. Again, it didn’t seem like we had the energy we needed. It was a good thing Keon had it going, because the rest of our guards really struggled. It was a bad shooting night for us. We are gonna have some of those. Gotta give our guys some credit for going on a big run in the second half.”

Alabama’s next game will be Tuesday at the CM Newton Classic at Legacy Arena in Birmingham. Alabama’s original opponent was the No. 23 Colorado State Rams, but because of COVID-19 complications, the Crimson Tide will face off against the Atlantic 10 front-running Davidson Wildcats.

The matchup between Alabama and Davidson is set for Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. CT on SEC Network+.