Alabama will look for a bounce-back win against East Tennessee State in a nonconference matchup Tuesday night at Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The Crimson Tide (4-3) enter off a 73-71 defeat to Western Kentucky on Saturday in which the Hilltoppers’ Charles Bassey scored the game-winner on a put-back with 23 seconds remaining. Herbert Jones missed a potential game-tying shot on Alabama’s ensuing possession.
Alabama will need a better effort from sophomore Jaden Shackelford, the team’s second-leading scorer last season behind only Kira Lewis Jr., who was selected 13th overall by the New Orleans Pelicans in this year’s NBA draft.
Shackelford made just 2 of 9 attempts from the field in the Saturday defeat, sinking just 1 of 5 attempts from beyond the arc. He finished with 12 points.
Shackelford has as averaged 12.3 points per game after scoring 15 per game last season. He is shooting 34.2 percent from the field and 31.4 percent on 3-point attempts after shooting 41.3 percent and 35.7 percent respectively a season ago.
Shackelford led all Southeastern Conference players with 55 made 3-pointers during conference play last season and finished his freshman year with 466 points, the fourth most by any freshman in Crimson Tide history.
“Shackelford scored the ball at a really high level for a freshman,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “He’s in a little bit of a slump. That whole sophomore slump thing is real. I think sometimes teams aren’t prepared for them as a freshman, but now, everybody’s preparing for him. Maybe he’s pressing the issue a little bit. That’s a real thing, and he’s experiencing it a little bit right here.”
Jones has emerged as the team’s go-to player, with team highs in points (14.0) and rebounds (6.9) per game. John Petty (12.0 points) and Jahvon Quinerly (11.4 points and a team-high 2.9 assists) are the only other Alabama players averaging in double figures.
Oats is confident Shackelford will play better, beginning against East Tennessee State (4-3), a member of the Southern Conference.
“I think he’s a better player now than he was last year, much better,” Oats said. “I think he’s a better playmaker. I think he can play in pick-and-roll more. I think he can drive the ball better than he did. There’s a lot of things that he does way better than he did as a freshman. He’s just not making shots right now. Once he starts making shots, I think everybody will see that he’s a much-improved player from last year.”
The Buccaneers have allowed an average of just 55.6 points during their three-game winning streak that has come against Gardner-Webb, Columbia International and Lee University. None of the three rank in the caliber of Alabama.
Ledarrius Brewer leads East Tennessee State in scoring at 15.1 points per game, but he is the only Buccaneers player who scores double figures. David Sloan averages 9.3 points per game to go along with a team-leading 4.0 assists per game while Ty Brewer averages 8.9 points per game. Damari Monsanto and Silas Adheke combine to average 12.4 rebounds per game.
“Our guys are taking some great pride on the defensive end,” East Tennessee coach Jason Shay said on his postgame radio interview after his team defeated Lee University on Saturday. “Our number (for opponents’ field-goal percentage) is 30, and if we continue to do that, we’ll win a lot of ballgames.”
–Field Level Media