Alabama men's basketball stunned Gonzaga thanks in part to dominant play from the Crimson Tide's versatile guards.
Heading into Saturday night's game, there was talk of how Alabama was going to guard Gonzaga's big men, Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren. However, the Crimson Tide found its advantage with the stout performance from three of its guards.
"Big time games, big time players show up," Alabama head coach Nate Oats said postgame.
Jaden Shackelford had an unbelievable first half, making six threes as part of his 20 points going into the break. His performance gave Alabama a 51-45 lead at halftime, and the junior guard tied his career high in scoring with 28 points against the No. 3 team in the nation.
"Feels good to play well, but number one was going out there and getting the win," Shackelford said. "Credit to my teammates for finding me and getting me open, and obviously playing for a coach who gives you the freedom. It's just going out there taking the right shots, and you take the right shots, you get rewarded for it."
"He helped give us a lead, and it's a lot easier playing with a lead than playing from behind," Oats said.
Shackelford also grabbed eight rebounds and kept turnovers to a minimal with just three in his 38 minutes of play time.
Alongside Shackelford, JD Davison also splurged for a career high in scoring with 20 points in the biggest game of his career. Davison had the most positive impact for Alabama when on the floor, going an unbelievable plus-26 in 26 minutes of play time.
Coming into the contest, Davison had not been the biggest threat from deep. That narrative changed quickly, as the freshman sank 4-of-6 from long range. He added five rebounds and three assists to his stat line as well.
"JD, it was the first big game of his college career," Oats said. "I thought he answered the bell pretty well. He's been in the gym working on his shot, and it paid off."
Davison grabbed a late-game steal in stride and took it to the rim for a slam, igniting the Crimson Tide bench and pushing the lead to 84-72. The freshman stepped up for Alabama when he was needed most.
Jahvon Quinerly's night was a little more under the radar than the two above, but his performance was incredibly meaningful for the Crimson Tide. Quinerly ended up with 17 points, scoring inside with finesse. He led the team in assists with six, and he was 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
On a night where Keon Ellis was held to just four points and the bigs were in foul trouble, these three guards took over the game, leading the Crimson Tide to victory.