Alabama basketball tops Drake in ESPN Events Invitational
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Alabama basketball bounced back from a loss Thursday against Iona and topped Drake on Friday for a 80-71 victory.
The Crimson Tide was down early against the Bulldogs, trailing 14-10 with 12:23 left in the first half. But then Alabama coach Nate Oats watched his team reel off a 15-0 run to take control. Oats and company saw Drake battle back and even take a lead in the second half, but recovered and had a comfortable enough lead by the end.
Alabama improved to 5-1. Drake fell to 3-2.
Jahvon Quinerly led the Crimson Tide in scoring for the first time during its run in the ESPN Events Invitational. His 18 points came mostly in the second half, and from the free-throw line. He and Jaden Shackelford each went 2-for-6 from behind the arc on the night.
Shackelford and Juwan Gary were right behind Quinerly with 14 points. Gary added 10 rebounds for a double-double. On the other side, Drake was led by D.J. Wilkins’ 17 points.
Alabama wasn’t able to coast to the end. Oats had to stick with his eight-man rotation that he used through the first half. And now the Crimson Tide has one more matchup in Florida on Sunday before the trip will come to an end.
Here are three takeaways from Alabama’s win:
Again, the 3-point shooting wasn’t there for Alabama
The Crimson Tide came into the ESPN Events Invitational as a team that had not attempted less than 27 3-pointers in a game. It came into the event as one of the nation’s most prolific offenses, in number of 3s hit over the course of a contest. And that success simply hasn’t translated to HP Field House at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
After only going 5-for-17 from behind the arc in Thursday’s loss against Iona, Alabama went 5-for-19 on 3s against Drake. The Crimson Tide may have shot 54.4% from the field, but it shot 26.3% from behind the arc. Alabama has now had four straight games where it’s hit less than 30% of its 3s.
On the other end, Drake hit 42.9% of its shots from the field and 36.8% from behind the arc. The Crimson Tide had a 46-32 advantage in points in the paint by game’s end.
Alabama doesn’t let near season-high in turnovers lead to loss
Alabama came into the contest committing and average of 13.8 turnovers per game, while its opponents averaged 13. That meant the Crimson Tide had a slightly negative turnover margin. But it didn’t mean it was seeing that disadvantage lead to significant issues on the scoreboard, as Alabama averaged five more points off of turnovers per game than its opponents.
And against Drake, the turnover bug hit but didn’t hamper Alabama.
The Crimson Tide turned the ball over 17 times, yet saw the Bulldogs do so 15 times. Alabama scored 18 points off of Drake’s turnovers, while Drake scored 19 points off of Alabama’s. JD Davison’s seven turnovers were an issue for the Crimson Tide.
Alabama is struggling, and its schedule doesn’t get much easier
An event like the ESPN Events Invitational is meant to be challenging. As highly-ranked as the Crimson Tide was coming into it, No. 9 in the nation according to the coaches poll, that didn’t mean an Iona or a Drake were going to be teams that Alabama overlooked. But then the Crimson Tide lost against Iona, and had to work to the end against Drake, and looking ahead Alabama’s first three games in December are against No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 11 Houston and No. 10 Memphis.
Who knows where those three teams will be ranked by the time the Crimson Tide faces Gonzaga, but it’s likely they are all future NCAA Tournament teams that are expected to reach that point in a way neither Iona nor Drake are. Southeastern Conference play starts not too long after that.
Whatever questions the coaching staff and players feel they need to figure out, they need to do so quickly or the coming weeks could bring with them some tough results.
Alabama next plays Sunday at 5:30 p.m. CT against Miami.