Alabama defeated a team named the Bulldogs for the second time on Saturday night, this time in Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Wash.
The No. 16 Crimson Tide (7-1) upset No. 3 Gonzaga (7-2) by a score of 91-82, led by sophomore guard Jaden Shackelford who scored 28 points. Alabama's backcourt of Shackelford, JD Davison, and Jahvon Quinerly combined for 65 of Alabama's 91 points.
"It was a huge win for the program, obviously Gonzaga is one of the best programs in the country," Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. "Our energy out of the gate was really good, we made some big shots early in the game."
Alabama's offense exploded for 10 three-pointers in the first half, bolstering the Tide to a 16-point halftime lead. Shackelford scored 20 first half points off 6-7 shooting from beyond the arc.
"It was one of the most fun atmospheres I've played in since I've been in college," Shackelford said. "I feel like we faced a little adversity but we stayed true and stayed together and that's how we got the win."
Even though National Player of the Year candidate Drew Timme and freshman phenom Chet Holmgren seemed like a mismatch on paper for Alabama, the defense stood tall in the first half against the bigs and freshman center Charles Bediako tallied five first half blocks. Bediako finished the game with six blocks.
"I thought our defensive intensity was good," Oats said. "All of our bigs were in foul trouble most of the game, Charles was big for us."
Gonzaga opened the half with a 7-0 run, but Alabama responded with a few Shackelford buckets and a three from Davison to extend its lead back out to double digits again.
Davison put on his best showing yet in a Crimson Tide uniform, truly showing his capabilities on a national stage against a highly-touted opponent. He scored 20 points off the bench and made four shots from distance, which all seemed to come at key moments in the game.
"JD had his first big game of his college career," Oats said. "He shot 4-of-6 from three, he's been in the gym working on his shot."
Foul trouble became an apparent issue for the Crimson Tide in the second half. Ten minutes into the half, Juwan Gary, Noah Gurley, Darius Miles, and Bediako had all collected four fouls apiece.
Following a scoring drought, Gonzaga cut the lead to as low as four points in the waning minutes of the game. A Davison three, a three from Quinerly, who finished with 17 points, and a breakaway slam from Davison off a steal finally put the game out of reach for the Tide.
"It was a huge win for our program, I'm really happy for our guys who bought in and played the right way," Oats said.
This is Alabama's first ranked win of the season, and the Crimson Tide will look to add to its resume as the No. 15 Houston Cougars visit Coleman Coliseum next Saturday for a 9 p.m. CT tipoff.