TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP)Less than two weeks after beating then-No. 1 Duke on the road, Stephen F. Austin wasn’t able to recreate that success against Alabama.
“For a team that went in and won for the first time in 20 plus years as a nonconference team at Cameron, that’s going to be a confident team that came in here, and I thought our defense was as good as it’s been all year,” said Alabama head coach Nate Oats.
Jaden Shackelford scored 17 points and Alabama beat Stephen F. Austin 78-68 Friday night.
Alabama had five players finish in double figures including John Petty Jr. and Alex Reese, who each made four 3-pointers and scored 15 points.
Both teams struggled with sloppy play and turnovers in the first half with a combined 12 turnovers only seven minutes into the game.
After a tightly contested first half, the Crimson Tide opened the second half on a 15-4 run behind the shots of Petty and Reese.
Reese said the hot shooting becomes infectious for his teammates.
“I personally love when my teammates get going. I like to see them score. It really just brings me a lot of energy, and when I get a lot of energy I try to spread it throughout the team,” Reese said.
The Lumberjacks responded to that with a mini 7-0 run of their own to cut Alabama’s lead to five, but Reese ended that run with another 3-pointer.
Alabama shot 34% from 3-point range, connecting on 11 of those shots to keep Stephen F. Austin out of reach.
Kira Lewis shined in the second half and finished with 15 points and six rebounds for Alabama.
Kevon Harris and Gavin Kensmil, Stephen F. Austin’s leading scorers coming into the game, struggled offensively. Harris was 3 of 16 from the field and Kensmil was limited to four points.
“We have a serious lack of trust on our team on offense right now. I give Alabama a lot of credit with their athleticism,” said SFA head coach Kyle Keller. “They made us look bad tonight. I give their defense and their toughness around the rim a lot of credit.”
Keller said it was probably the best defense his team has faced all season.
Cameron Johnson added 16 points and six rebounds for the Lumberjacks, and Roti Ware and John Comeaux scored 13 points each.
Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks were cold from the field all night, and only made four 3-point field goals.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide finished with a season-high eight blocks with four different players contributing.
Stephen F. Austin hosts Louisiana Monroe on Dec. 14.
Alabama faces their second true road test of the season at Penn State on Dec. 14.