Men’s basketball defeats FAU, earns first win under Oats

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Javian Davis goes up for a rebound during the Crimson Tide's win over Florida Atlantic. (CW / Hannah Saad)

Alabama men’s basketball extended a slim lead late in the first half to an eventual 78-59 win over Florida Atlantic, the team’s first win under coach Nate Oats.

With 4:19 remaining in the first half, Alabama found itself up just 25-23. But the Crimson Tide answered with a 18-2 run to finish the half, pushed its lead to 18 and didn’t look back.

“I thought it was a great win,” Oats said. “[FAU] is a good quality team and our guys played really hard. The effort trumped the mistakes we made.”

With transfer guard Jahvon Quinerly’s appeal for immediate eligibility denied prior to the game and junior forward Herbert Jones unavailable due to a hyperextended elbow, the Crimson Tide was limited to an eight-man rotation.

In a guard-heavy lineup for a majority of the game, both freshman guard Jaden Shackelford and sophomore guard Kira Lewis Jr. excelled, with Shackelford scoring 17 points while shooting for 4 for 7 from beyond the arc and Lewis with scoring 16 points, six rebounds and eight assists.

Having only three available scholarship players taller than six-foot-five, presence inside the post was needed after the Crimson Tide gave up 42 points in the paint against Penn.

Oats found that player in redshirt freshman forward Javian Davis.

After struggling in the first half by shooting 1 for 4 from the field, Davis made his first five shots in the second half with seven of his 14 second-half points coming in the first 3:36. Davis finished the game with 19 points and nine rebounds after having just two points and two rebounds six days ago against Penn.

“I wanted to bounce back from the loss we took last week,” Davis said. “My teammates and I decided to come in and play more intentionally and play with more physicality.”

Junior forward Alex Reese complemented Davis in the post with 12 points and eight rebounds.

Despite the 19-point win, Alabama still struggled with turning the ball over. Alabama tallied 19 total turnovers, which is four more than it had against Penn. Eight turnovers came in the first half, which allowed FAU to cut the lead down to two with just over four minutes left in first half.

Even though there were more turnovers than Oats would like, all but five of the Crimson Tide’s 26 made field goals were assisted.

“I thought the ball was moving well tonight,” Oats said. “I thought Kira getting in the lane, collapsing the defense and kicking it out was really getting our offense going.”

Alabama will play at Rhode Island on Friday with tip off at 6:30 p.m.