TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama men's basketball opened up the 2020-2021 season in solid fashion on Wednesday night, defeating Jacksonville State 81-57 in Coleman Coliseum.
For the Crimson Tide, it was a successful blue-collar night. Needless to say, second-year coach Nate Oats was happy with the effort from his players at the end of the night.
"All in all, we set a record here for blue-collar points," Oats said. "We keep track of that stuff. We had 151-and-a-half. Herb Jones led the team. We were taking charges, on the floor for loose balls, getting deflections — I thought our energy on that side of the ball was really good."
Two Alabama players earned double-doubles on the night in sophomore guard Jaden Shackelford and senior wing Herbert Jones. The double-double for Shackelford was the first of his career, tallying 18 points and 11 rebounds in the win.
Like his coach, Shackelford was also pleased with his team's performance on Wednesday night.
"Double-double feels good," Shackelford said. "I just try to go out every game and find a way to help my team win. Tonight, getting those rebounds was big for me. I put an emphasis on being a better defender this year because that's the next step that I have to take to take my game to the next level."
For Jones, the senior racked up 12 points and 12 rebounds in the Alabama victory. Jones also hit five of six free-throw attempts and had two blocks on defense.
The night also marked the first game back in action for sophomore guard Jahvon Quinerly, who also celebrated his birthday on Wednesday. Quinerly celebrated in style, totaling 18 points, one rebound and three assists. Quinerly was also 2-for-2 from the free-throw line, and 2-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line.
"I was really happy with his game," Oats said of Quinerly. "I thought obviously his first game starting — his first game playing significant minutes in a long time — I thought he was good. I didn't think he forced anything. He took what the defense gave him, he got in the paint, finished at the rim, got some threes. He's been shooting the ball great for us."
The game was the first time since February of 2019 that Quinerly had seen action on the floor, which was back when he still wore the blue and white jersey of Villanova.
Jacksonville State at Alabama, Nov. 25, 2020
Senior guard John Petty Jr. also had a solid performance, raking in 14 points and six rebounds.
The game started slow for both sides, with Jacksonville State leading 10-9 at the 14:55 mark of the first half. However, Alabama then went on a 12-2 run, surpassing the Gamecocks and giving the Crimson Tide a 21-12 lead.
Jacksonville State made a comeback effort, cutting Alabama's lead to six. However, the Crimson Tide went on a 6-0 run to end the half with a score of 36-24 in favor of Alabama.
After a back-and-forth start to the game in the first half, Alabama went on a 19-3 run that started with 11:46 remaining in the contest. From there, the Crimson Tide maintained the lead, with its game off the boards keeping the Gamecocks from ever catching back up.
For the Alabama freshmen and newcomers, guard Joshua Primo led the young players with five points and three rebounds.
Regarding first-time players on the court, junior forward James Rojas tallied eight points and seven rebounds in his first time in an Alabama jersey.
As a team, Alabama out-rebounded Jacksonville State 55-49 and turned the ball over 10 times on the night compared to the Gamecocks' 20 turnovers. The Crimson Tide also led in both fast-break points and second-chance points with 19 and 23 points, respectively.
All in all, it was a solid night for Alabama on both sides of the basketball.
The Crimson Tide moves to 1-0 on the year while the Gamecocks start the season 0-1.