No. 8 Alabama Basketball Aims to Get Offense Back on Track in Rematch Against Auburn

The Crimson Tide hopes on Tuesday night versus Auburn that its offensive firepower can match its defensive tenacity

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama basketball's leading scorer Jaden Shackelford is in a little bit of a shooting slump from three-point range over the last eight games. 

He is 9-of-38 from deep but still averages 14.1 points, with the majority of his scoring coming at the rim or from the free-throw line. 

However, the Hesperia, Ca. product has a plan to end his woes from the perimeter.

"Keep shooting," Shackelford told the media via Zoom on Monday afternoon. "We have shooters all over the floor. Shots aren't going to affect our confidence or how many three-pointers we shoot. We are going to keep shooting the open shots when we get them. Guys have been missing shots lately, and I have been missing myself, but it's just all about confidence and knowing that coach has confidence in you to make shots. We'll stay in the gym and trust our work when it comes game-time."

Shackelford and the Crimson Tide are entering Tuesday night's home-finale with in-state rival Auburn (6 p.m, ESPN2) coming off of a 64-59 road win versus Mississippi State on Saturday, which clinched the school's 8th SEC regular-season title. 

Over the last two games, which includes the meeting with the Bulldogs and a road loss to Arkansas last Wednesday, Alabama's offense as a whole as taken a hit, only scoring 64 and 66 points, respectively. 

It also only shot 29.5 percent (18-of-61) from beyond-the-arc last week. Per KenPom, the Crimson Tide's offensive efficiency is down to 39th in the country, while its adjusted defensive efficiency is third. 

"I feel good about our momentum," Shackelford added. "Last game was a big win for us. Our guys are pumped up. We just have to treat every game like we are trying to go 1-0 from here on out. We gotta change our mindset and stop worrying so far ahead or focusing on the past. We gotta take this momentum from being SEC champions and use it to keep us on the right direction and get our offense back on track and keep being one of the best defensive teams in the country."

The "live by the three or die by the three" cliche doesn't apply to the Crimson Tide thanks to its tenacious defense and ability to attack the rim.

"They don't know what they are talking about," Alabama coach Nate Oats said of people who use that slogan for his team. "They don't really watch us play. You go to the Arkansas game, and anyone who thinks the foul count was 43-8 because we took more threes than them doesn’t pay attention to what's going on in the game. We shot 25 at the rim, they shot 21. So we got more at the rims than they did... The efficiency on a long two is worse than it is on a three. We are getting more at-the-rim shots than most of our opponents."

Against Auburn inside Coleman Coliseum looks to be a nice spot for the 8th-ranked Crimson Tide to get back to hitting on all cylinders on offense. 

The Tigers rank 12th in the SEC in scoring defense (76.9), 10th in field goal defense (43.9), and ninth in three-point field goal defense (33.2). 

Alabama defeated Auburn 94-90 back on Jan. 9 inside Auburn Arena and there's a chance this time around that star freshman guard Sharife Cooper might miss the game due to an ankle injury but Oats isn't taking any chances.

"We gotta get our offense to catch up with our defense," Oats said. "We aren't taking care of the ball enough. We couldn't finish at the rim [against Mississippi State]. We haven't shot it particular great recently but there's a lot to fix on the offensive side."