Alabama basketball hangs on to defeat South Alabama. Here are our observations

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama basketball sure made Tuesday night more interesting than it probably should have been. 

The No. 13 Crimson Tide had a propensity for turning the ball over and struggled to find sustained offensive success early, but Alabama managed to hold off a South Alabama team that had plenty of fight anyway. The Crimson Tide defeated the Jaguars 73-68 at Coleman Coliseum. 

Here are observations as Alabama (3-0) defeated South Alabama (1-2): 

Turnovers a problem

The first half looked like one big game of hot potato, for Alabama especially. 

Neither team was stellar in the turnover department early on, but the Crimson Tide especially struggled to keep the ball. 

In the first half, Alabama led in turnovers and trailed in score because of it. The Crimson Tide had 14 in the first half alone while South Alabama had 10. 

"They played hard," Alabama coach Nate Oats said. "They got up into us. I think they kind of took the fight to us a little bit." 

Alabama was fortunate that the Jaguars weren't scoring better in the first half, otherwise the 34-31 deficit at halftime could have been worse. South Alabama shot 37% from the floor and 21% on 3-pointers in the first half. 

Alabama finished with 22 turnovers while South Alabama had 21. 

"Our guys have got to be a little tougher," Oats said. "They've got to be able to beat their man. I didn't think we were aggressive enough in some of that." 

Two technicals

Both teams managed to find ways to pick up technical fouls as the game remained close early in the second half. 

First, it was Oats who wanted traveling called but was given a technical on the play. Crimson Tide assistant Bryan Hodgson tried to hold back Oats, who was fired up. Charles Manning Jr. made 1 of 2 free-throw attempts to even the score at 35. 

A few minutes later, the referees assessed a technical on another play to Manning. 

Oats said postgame he thought the play that led to him being called for a technical was traveling, and it looked like the player dragged his foot. 

"By technicality, I was on the floor," Oats said. "Not supposed to step on the floor to discuss that with him, so it was probably the correct 'T.' Hopefully every coach that argues the call and steps on the floor against us has the same 'T' called the rest of the year." 

Getting a technical might not be all bad, though. Jaden Shackelford said postgame he thinks Alabama is undefeated when Oats gets called for a technical. 

"He's into the game, he's very passionate about the game," Shackelford said. "Obviously we don't want to get techs and give the other team free points, but it just fires us up more to double down and get stops and win games." 

Keon Ellis heats up at right time

When Alabama needed a spark most, Ellis provided one. 

Javon Franklin had just dunked to put the Jaguars up 51-49 early in the second half, continuing the trend from the first half of South Alabama staying one step ahead. For a while, Alabama just couldn't heat up offensively. 

But soon after Franklin's dunk, Ellis hit a 3-pointer to give Alabama a 52-51 lead with 10:40 left. 

And the Crimson Tide took it from there. 

In addition to Ellis scoring another basket, Darius Miles also stepped up. He drove to score off a pass from JD Davison, and he later dunked to put Alabama up 59-51 with 8:10 left. The Crimson Tide was on a 10-0 run at one point as the South Alabama offense slowed up. 

This run helped put Alabama in a position to have a small lead to hold onto late. 

Ellis finished with 18 points and six rebounds. Miles had 10 points and two rebounds. 

Shackelford finishes with his first double-double of the season

Shackelford tied Ellis for the most points in the game with 18 while adding a team-high 10 rebounds. 

JD Davison flies to help slam home win

With the game still within reach for South Alabama in the final minute, Davison drove down the court and took flight as he slammed home a dunk that gave Alabama a 70-64 lead. Coleman Coliseum boomed in response. 

Juwan Gary wearing boot

Gary did not play Tuesday. He was spotted wearing a boot on his right ankle. Ellis is dealing with a right ankle injury that is not expected to be long-term, Oats said Monday. 

Oats labeled him as doubtful when he spoke to reporters Monday. Gary suffered the injury in the game last Friday against South Dakota State. 

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