No. 6 Alabama braces for challenge from streaking Davidson

No. 6 Alabama and Davidson needed new opponents after their scheduled foes were forced to back out of games due to COVID-19 protocols.

The Crimson Tide were slated to face Colorado State, while the Wildcats were set to host Loyola Chicago.

Instead of losing a game from their respective schedules, Alabama and Davidson will meet on Tuesday night in the C.M Newton Classic in Birmingham, Ala.

Alabama (9-2) is coming off a narrow 65-59 home victory over in-state foe Jacksonville State on Saturday. The Crimson Tide held a one-point lead at halftime before pulling away despite making just 2 of 11 3-point attempts in the second half.

Keon Ellis led Alabama with 20 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. Jahvon Quinerly added 15 points and four assists.

“It is a good thing that we had Keon Ellis going,” Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats said. “The rest of our guards really struggled. We have to do a better job bringing more of a defensive intensity.”

Jaden Shackelford leads Alabama in scoring this season with an average of 16.5 points per game. But he was bottled up against Jacksonville State, finishing with zero points — missing all six shot attempts — in 34 minutes of play.

“I would doubt Shack has a zero the rest of the year,” Oats told Rivals. “I mean, that’s not like him. He had six pretty good looks, too, I thought.”

Davidson (8-2) recorded its seventh straight victory with a 74-54 win over Radford on Saturday. The Wildcats forced the Highlanders into 20 turnovers and held them to 39.6 percent shooting from the floor.

Four Wildcats scored in double digits, but Foster Loyer led the charge with 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the floor. Mike Jones had 15 points, Hyunjung Lee added 14 and Luka Brajkovic collected 12 points and six rebounds.

All four players average double digits in scoring, too, with Lee’s 18.1 points leading the team.

“Our guys overcame the distractions, and as a result of that, I think we put it together in the second half,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop told the school’s postgame radio show. “Foster, of course, had another very good game. … He certainly is a great leader for us. We’ve identified that since he’s stepped on our campus.”

McKillop has been the head coach of the Wildcats since 1989 and has guided them to nine NCAA Tournament appearances and eight NIT berths. Davidson’s roster has an international flavor, featuring players from seven different countries.

While Davidson isn’t ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 poll, it is 59th in the KenPom ratings. The Wildcats haven’t faced an opponent from a Power Five conference this season.

“In my four years that I’ve played here, this is probably the best team I’ve played with,” Brajkovic said. “You don’t know how hard we practice every single day. I don’t think any other team practices like we do.”

–Field Level Media