TUSCALOOSA | The Richmond Spiders limited John Petty’s perimeter shooting. They limited Alex Reese. But they couldn’t limit everyone.
Freshman Jaden Shackelford came off the bench to score a career-high 28 points, including six 3-pointers, as Alabama closed out the non-conference portion of its schedule with a 90-78 win over the Spiders at Coleman Coliseum on Sunday.
“They are hard to guard with so many shooters on the floor,” Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. “You can’t help off Petty. You can’t really help off the point guard (Kira Lewis Jr.) because he’s so good. So they are either going to shoot 3’s or attack you in the paint and it’s hard to defend.”
Shackelford’s 3-pointers also came at critical times, especially as Alabama struggled offensively in the early going.
“When you combine offense and defense, I thought it was his best game,” Oats said. “We’ve been on him about his defense. But he’s always got confidence, which I love. He’s a great kid, and has a great attitude. I’ve talked about how he is maybe the best freshman I’ve coached in terms of being ready to play and I think people are starting to see what I mean.”
“It’s easy to get in rhythm when your teammates look for you and get the ball,” Shackelford said. “I give the credit to them.”
Richmond led 10-5 after the first three minutes, but Shackelford came on to hit three straight shots from behind the arc in a 3-minute, 11-0 run. The Crimson Tide never trailed from that point.
Alabama led by as many as 16 points, 67-51, on a Shackelford 3-pointer with 10:35 remaining. Richmond whittled that deficit down to five points over the next four minutes, pulling as close as 72-67 with 6:59 to play but another Shackelford 3-pointer staved off the run and the Crimson Tide defense was solid down the stretch.
In addition to Shackelford’s 28 points, Alabama got 17 points from both Petty and Lewis and an 11-point, 10-rebound performance from Herbert Jones.
“Herb has definitely improved with the time off (to heal a hyperextended elbow),” Oats said. “They said this was his first double-double but to me, he should be a double-double machine.”
Richmond (10-3) was led by Jacob Gilyard with 21 points and center Grant Golden, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Alabama (7-5) will begin SEC play on Saturday at Florida.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt