TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (NWN) – Keon Ellis scored 18 points, Jahwon Quinarli began to lead with less than three minutes to go and No. 14 Alabama beat South Alabama 73-68 on Tuesday night.
The Crimson Tide (3-0) trailed 34-31 at the break, largely due to an unusually sloppy game, scoring 14 turnovers in the first half after going on to a total of 14 in their season opener and eight in their second game.
“We try to be proactive and put pressure on people and make them uncomfortable,” said South Alabama coach Richie Riley. “I thought we were able to do that, which is a statement of how we are improving defensively, because in my opinion they have one of the strongest backcourts in the country.”
“Being able to flip him several times, 22 for the game, is a development in our defence,” he said.
Charles Manning Jr., who had 23 points for the Jaguars (1-2), hit a 3 to make it 62-all with 3:09 remaining. Quinerly’s basket put Alabama ahead for good.
Jaden Shackelford added 18 points and was four of seven 3-pointers scored by Alabama.
“It’s certainly a good sign, when we face adversity, to not give up and fight back,” Shackelford said. “We don’t give up, we fight, we see what we got as a team.”
Darius Miles added 10 points off the bench and Quinrelli added eight. Charles Bediako was key to the defensive effort with five blocks and three steals.
Manning also had six rebounds and four assists. Senior Kayo Gonzales added 12 points, all coming from behind the 3-point line.
A layup from Ellis tied it up in just under 12 minutes. His corner 3-pointer started the run 8-0 as Alabama rolled.
Alabama got their first taste of a close game and responded by making seven of 10 free throws in the final two minutes. South Alabama’s ability to force the Crimson Tide into a high-stress situation bodes well for its future, as it was the toughest non-conference game of the season so far.
Holt’s growing role
Alabama freshman Juson Holt went from playing a total of four minutes in Alabama’s first two games to eight minutes against South Alabama. He did not take a shot, but caught three rebounds and blocked a shot.
“I told him, ‘Where are we struggling? Defensive end. If you can stand guard and play hard, we’ll put you in,'” said Alabama coach Nate Oates. And worked hard in practice. Our guys weren’t crashing, weren’t getting rebounds, that’s something they did well in practice. I thought he played really well, played really hard.”
South Alabama hosts NAIA rival, the University of Mobile, on Saturday.
Alabama completed a four-game homestand against Oakland to begin the regular season on Friday night. The Golden Grizzlies have already reversed the Power 5 this season, beating Oklahoma State 56-55 on Friday.
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