On Oct. 24 in an exhibition win over Louisiana, Alabama junior Jaden Shackelford was held to six points on 1-for-14 shooting. Tide coach Nate Oats said at the time, “That’ll never happen again. That’s not him.”

Such was certainly not the case as Alabama beat Louisiana Tech 93-64 Tuesday night at Coleman Coliseum.

Of Tuesday’s win, Oats said, “First thing is I want to thank the student section. There were about 3,000 in there.

“Juwan Gary beat Keon Ellis by one point for the hard hat.”

Ellis’ plus-minus for his time on the court was 37. “That’s unheard of. That’s Herb Jones type stuff.”

Bulldogs coach Eric Konkol said, “The things we were trying to do were keep them out of the paint and keep them off the backboard. Neither one of them did we have a lot of consistent success with. We had some moments, but they are electric at getting downhill, getting to the paint and it triggers a lot of sharing for them. They turn down a good shot for a great shot. They did that repeatedly.

The times they did miss they were able to collect a couple of offensive rebounds. They’re a tough cover, no doubt.”

Konkol said the Tide’s 22 second chance points were another factor especially early. We had some really good possessions early of keeping them out of the paint and contesting shots. They had six offensive rebounds in the first ten minutes of the game. That ignited them. We got better; they had ten the rest of the game.

Keon Ellis scored 18 points and Shackelford added 17 to lead No. 14 Alabama to the victory over the Bulldogs in the opening game for both teams. The pair was joined in double figures by teammates JD Davison and Jowan Gary with 12 each. Gary added 10 boards for the double-double. Ellis grabbed nine rebounds.

Davison’s debut featured a tomahawk dunk and a 3-ball from the corner.

“He’s such a powerful, explosive player,” said Konkol. “Fast. He gets downhill.  We tried to keep him out of transition as much as possible.

“You can see he’s got immense talent.”

Louisiana Tech was led by Keaston Willis with 16 points. Other Bulldogs in double digits were Isaiah Crawford with 15 and Kenneth Lofton Jr. with a dozen.

Alabama (1-0) led 48-31 at the half. The Bulldogs would cut the deficit to a dozen with a strong 7-1 start to the second half, but the visitors would come no closer.

The rebounding battle was won by Alabama by a 45-35 margin.

Alabama finished the game with four walk-ons on the floor and the crowd erupted when fifth-year graduate student Tyler Barnes scored the team’s final four points, a career high.

The win capped off a successful day for Oats’ program. Earlier the Tide landed a commitment from Duncanville, TX guard Rylan Griffen to give Alabama the No. 3 recruiting class in the 247 composite rankings.

Redshirt freshman Alex Tchioku did not play for Alabama as he is serving a two-game suspension. Oats did not specify why the 6-foot-11 Tchioku was being held out but sources inside the Crimson Tide program say it’s related to him playing in an unsanctioned charity exhibition in Las Vegas in the early summer. The source said Tchioku was not medically cleared by Alabama and did not ask permission to participate in the event.

BIG PICTURE

Oats chose to bring freshman JD Davison off the bench and the freshman responded well with 12 points and 6 rebounds and 6 assists.

The Bulldogs misfired on 10-of-14 free throws Tuesday or the game would have been a bit more closely contested.

RATLIFF HONORED

Just before tip-off, Alabama honored the late Luke “Fluffapotamus” Ratliff by presenting his mom Pam with a plaque and by dedicating the seat the super fan sat in to his memory.

Ratliff passed away in March due to complications from COVID-19 after attending nearly every game – home and away- that the basketball team played during his years as an Alabama student.

“He was more than just a fan,” Oats said. “He was  a part of us. It felt like he was a part of the program.”

UP NEXT

Alabama will finish week one of its season with a Friday home game against South Dakota State Jackrabbits.

Louisiana Tech will host Jackson State Friday.

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