Alabama Surges Late, Beats Jax. St. 65-59
The 6/8 Alabama Crimson Tide took advantage of a late swing of momentum to best the Jacksonville State Gamecocks 65-59.
Alabama, coming off a loss in Memphis, wanted to show more effort under the glass and play clean basketball. Early in the contest, that wasn't totally the case.
Two players that showed up in the first 20 minutes were Keon Ellis and Charles Bediako.
Ellis kept Alabama to pace with the Gamecocks, sinking three-straight at the charity stripe and a three-pointer shortly afterward to grab an upstart lead. Ellis closed the half with a team-leading 14 points along with three rebounds and two assists.
"I anticipated them playing hard," head coach Nate Oats said. "They gave us some problems. It's a good thing Keon got it going."
Charles Bediako was strong under the glass early as he snagged two rebounds and forced others out to his guards.
Bediako created a couple of turnovers to create opportunities. He picked a pass into the hands of JD Davison, who took the fast break in for a hard layup to retake the lead at 9:39 in the first. That was quickly wiped away when an inaccurate pass from Davison was intercepted by Gibbs who poured on a three-pointer on the next possession. A three-pointer by Adams put the Gamecocks on an 8-0 run with a 20-13 lead with 7:47 to go.
"We've gotta do a better job of bringing the defensive intensity to [the game.]"
Noah Gurley ended that run with a dunk off an Ellis assist out of the timeout. Ellis drained a three on the next trip down the floor, giving the Crimson Tide some much-needed momentum that kept Alabama within reach.
Alabama's continued struggles with turnovers and rebounding allowed Jacksonville State to hold a lead over Alabama for just short of the final 10 minutes of the first half until Jahvon Quinerly drained a buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the half.
At the bottom of the second half, Alabama hit a gear that riled up Coleman Coliseum as Darius Miles hit a three-pointer to snag the lead. Bediako followed it up on the other end of the floor with a block. After Shackelford blocked a shot attempt by sophomore guard Jay Pal, Quinerly tossed a powerful alley-oop play for Bediako.
Alabama dominated for a bulk of the final 10 minutes, going on a 21-3 run. The Gamecocks fought back to within six thanks in large part to nine points from senior guard Darian Adams.
Ellis finished with a double-double at 20 points on 50% shooting and 10 rebounds with three assists.
"We've encouraged him to be a little more aggressive," Oats said. "We've told some of our guys to just get lost in the game and not get too focused on getting Blue Collar points."
Bediako filled his stat sheet, racking up seven points with seven rebounds, five blocks and two steals. He also fouled out with 2:09 remaining.
As a team, Alabama shot 41% from the field, 27% from three. Alabama outrebounded Jacksonville State 41-38. On the injury front, JD Davison left the game in the second half with a right knee sprain, according to Oats. The coach said he would have been available in an emergency.
Alabama's next game will be against the Davidson Wildcats in Birmingham for the CM Newton Classic at the newly-renovated Legacy Arena at 6 p.m. CST on SEC Network+.