Jahvon Quinerly returns from injury as Alabama basketball defeats South Alabama

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama basketball's defense travels, and it travels well.

The Crimson Tide has proven early this season that it heard Nate Oats' preseason message loud and clear to play defense or don't play at all. That showed again Tuesday as the No. 16 Crimson Tide picked up a victory in its first road game of the season, defeating South Alabama 65-55on Saturday at the Mitchell Center in Mobile.

Alabama's defense proved crucial in a game that featured inconsistent shooting from the Crimson Tide. That hurt Alabama late as it struggled to put the game out of reach.

Freshman Brandon Miller led Alabama with 19 points as he tallied his third consecutive double-digit scoring game. Noah Clowney dominated on the glass, grabbing 15 rebounds.

Here are our observations and takeaways from the game between No. 16 Alabama (3-0) and South Alabama (1-2).

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Jahvon Quinerly returns

At one point, Oats was just hoping to have his veteran point guard back for conference play. Yet Quinerly is back on the court, and it's only the third game.

Quinerly tore his ACL in Alabama's loss to Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 18. It seemed he had a long recovery ahead.

But with about eight minutes left Tuesday, he checked into the game.

Oats had indicated Quinerly was ahead of schedule, but there's ahead of schedule and then there's Quinerly returning Nov. 15.

He attempted two shots and had one rebound over four minutes of play.

Another impressive performance for Alabama on the boards

The defense for this Crimson Tide team can be ridiculously good at times.

Even when shots aren't falling, the defense can put the game on hold until Alabama can get its offensive mojo going again. That has shown in other games this season, and it happened again against South Alabama.

The Crimson Tide shot only 29% from the field in the first half, but it still held a 32-22 lead at the break. Alabama certainly wouldn't have held that lead without some of the stellar defensive play on display.

Alabama grabbed 35 boards in the first half alone. Like other opponents this season, the Jaguars struggled with the Crimson Tide's length.

Meanwhile, even when Alabama was missing shots, the dominance on the offensive glass helped provide more opportunities. On the offensive end, the Crimson Tide held a 16-7 edge on the boards in the first half.

Alabama grabbed 63 total boards, just shy of its 67 rebounds in the opener against Longwood.

Turnovers a problem again

Oats has stressed time and time again this season the Crimson Tide needs to work on limiting turnovers. Tuesday's game showed it is still a work in progress.

Alabama had seven turnovers over the last 6:38 heading into South Alabama's timeout with 51 seconds left and the Jaguars down nine. Those turnovers helped South Alabama draw within single digits again.

Alabama had 21 total turnovers in the game.

Nimari Burnett starts second half strong

The Texas Tech transfer who had to miss all of last season with an injury served as the catalyst of Alabama's offense early in the second half.

He hadn't hit a 3-pointer yet this season but he changed that early in the second against South Alabama. Then he hit a few free throws for the Crimson Tide. Burnett also hit a layup to give him seven points not even five minutes into the second half.

Burnett's efforts helped Alabama build an early second-half lead out of the gate.

What's next for Alabama basketball?

The Crimson Tide returns to Tuscaloosa for a matchup with Jacksonville State on Friday (8 p.m., SEC Network) at Coleman Coliseum. After that, Alabama won't play again until Thanksgiving night when it faces Michigan State on Thursday, Nov. 24 (9:30 p.m. CT, ESPN) in Portland, Oregon, as part of the Phil Knight Invitational.