Although No. 18 Alabama is off to a three-game winning streak to open the season, it will need to pick up the pace offensively when an experienced Jacksonville State squad visits Friday night.
The Crimson Tide shot 32.4 percent from the field (22-for-68), including 28.6 percent from the 3-point line (10-for-35) in a 65-55 road win over South Alabama on Tuesday night. The Tide also had 21 turnovers, something that has plagued the team through its first three games.
“It was good road win,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “Offensively, we were not good for very large stretches of the game. We had turnovers and didn’t get a shot for a while there. Offensive rebounding saved us, which it has for a good part of the year.”
True freshman forward Brandon Miller is living up to the hype early on for the Crimson Tide. The McDonald’s All-American is averaging 17.7 points and 9.7 rebounds. He’s also racked up six assists in his last two games combined, showing off his ability as a passer.
Fellow freshman forward Noah Clowney has been a glass-cleaning machine for an Alabama team that leads the country in rebounds (58.3 per game). The 6-foot-10, 210-pound Clowney grabbed 15 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end, and added eight points in the win over the Jaguars.
Point guard Mark Sears is averaging 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 29.7 minutes. Turnovers (4.0 per game) have been a problem for Sears, however.
Texas Tech transfer Nimari Burnett (6.3 points) and center Charles Bediako (5.7 points, 8.0 rebounds) have also been key contributors for the Crimson Tide. Burnett, a rangy 6-4 guard, chipped in seven points, four rebounds and an assist in the 10-point win over South Alabama.
Jacksonville State (1-1) lost to Auburn in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament a season ago and gave University of Illinois-Chicago all it wanted in a hard-fought 67-60 loss Monday.
Veteran guard Skyelar Potter headlines an offense that’s averaging 85.5 points per game. Potter is the team’s leading scorer (16.0 ppg) and is coming off a 12-point, eight-rebound performance against the Flames.
Forward Amanze Ngumezi (13.0 points, 4.5 rebounds), and guards Demaree King (12.5 points, 4.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds) and Cam McDowell (8.5 points, 4.0 rebounds) are also key players on a Jacksonville State team that’s deep and experienced.
“This team is obsessed with getting better, no matter what, their focus is on getting better,” Gamecocks coach Ray Harper said recently.
Alabama welcomed back dynamic point guard Jahvon Quinerly to the fold in the win over South Alabama. Quinerly, a preseason All-SEC selection, suffered an ACL injury in last season’s NCAA Tournament loss to Notre Dame.
Quinerly, who had 23 double-digit scoring games last season, missed his only two shots in four minutes of action. He also grabbed a rebound.
Last year, Quinerly ranked second on the team in scoring (13.8 ppg), assists (4.2) and in field goals both made (165) and attempted (401). He ranked eighth in the SEC in assists and 12th in scoring.
–Field Level Media