Men’s basketball pulls away from Stephen F. Austin in second half


John Petty Jr. attempts a shot against Stephen F. Austin. Petty's hot shooting sparked a 15-2 run for Alabama. (CW / Hannah Saad)

Jack Kennedy | @jwkennedy24, Staff Reporter

Ten days after Stephen F. Austin snapped Duke’s 150-game non-conference home winning streak, the Lumberjacks could not escape Coleman Coliseum with a win, as Alabama defeated them 78-68 on Friday night to improve to 4-4.

“It’s a good quality win,” coach Nate Oats said. “That’s a team that plays with a lot of confidence. They are one of the hardest-playing teams we’ve seen.”

Alabama lost its one-point halftime lead after a layup by Stephen F. Austin to go down 33-32, but after two consecutive 3-pointers from junior guard John Petty Jr., the Crimson Tide did not look back as Petty sparked a 15-2 run.

The Crimson Tide shot 21 of 47 from the field with 32 of its field goals coming from beyond the arc. It did not bode well initially for Alabama, as it missed its first six 3-point attempts, but the team finished with 11 made.

Five players recorded double-digit points with freshman guard Jaden Shackelford leading the team, finishing with 17 points and 10-of-11 shooting from the free throw line. Petty and junior forward Alex Reese led the team from beyond the arc as both made four 3-point shots. Tonight marked the fourth time in five games that Petty had shot above 40% from three.

“These guys tell me, ‘You’re a shooter. It doesn’t matter if you miss. It doesn’t matter how many times you miss, just keep shooting,’” Petty said. “I think my confidence level is high right now.”

Coming into the game, Alabama had the fifth-most turnovers per game in the country with 18.3, and Stephen F. Austin ranked first in the country in turnovers forced, averaging 26 per game. Early in the game, it seemed as if turnovers were going to be an issue once again, as the Crimson Tide turned the ball over three times in the first three minutes and 11 times in the first half.

Alabama limited its turnovers to just five in the first 18 minutes of the second half, though, which allowed it to outscore the Lumberjacks by nine. The Crimson Tide’s 20 turnovers were the fewest that Stephen F. Austin had forced all season.

“The turnovers were a problem, but I thought during the middle 30 minutes of the game after we had settled down… we did a pretty job of not turning it over,” Oats said.

Alabama will travel to State College, Pennsylvania, next Saturday to face Penn State.