No. 14 Alabama brings fresh outlook into game vs. South Dakota State

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Alabama was dominant in its season-opening home win Tuesday night, but that came as no surprise to its players.

The No. 14 Crimson Tide (1-0) return to action Friday night against South Dakota State in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Alabama had its way with visiting Louisiana Tech in its opener and looked like the team that won SEC regular-season and conference titles its last time out.

The hot-shooting Tide drained eight 3-pointers in the first half against the Bulldogs and held a 48-31 lead after 20 minutes, then they poured it on in the final frame in a 93-64 rout.

Keon Ellis came off the bench to tally 18 points — going 5-for-7 with a trio of 3-pointers — and Jaden Shackelford added 17 after struggling (1-for-14 shooting) in an exhibition tune-up against Louisiana.

Ellis’ performance came as no surprise to Alabama coach Nate Oats.

“He’s been shooting lights-out in practice,” Oats said. “We call it our ‘NBA 100’: Shoot 100 3s similar to what you do in an NBA workout when you’re going to work out for a team.”

Shackelford said the team has a fresh outlook.

“Coming into the season, we weren’t talking about necessarily forgetting last year but putting it behind us and kind of passing the baton to this new team,” Shackelford said on SEC Network after the win. “It’s a new year, new challenges.”

A newcomer who definitely made his presence felt was elite recruit JD Davison.

The two-time Alabama Mr. Basketball and five-star prospect made his debut with 26 minutes of action off the bench — producing 12 points, six rebounds and six assists.

The performance left an impression on Bulldogs coach Eric Konkol.

“He’s such a powerful, explosive player,” Konkol said. “Fast. He gets downhill. We tried to keep him out of transition as much as possible. You can see he’s got immense talent.”

Just as Alabama did in its win, South Dakota State opened its campaign with proficient sharp shooting early.

The Jackrabbits connected on nine first-half 3-pointers — their only ones of the game — and defeated Bradley 81-65 at home on Tuesday night.

South Dakota State (1-0) struggled with Bradley’s size at first, but the Jackrabbits inserted 6-foot-8 Matt Dentlinger into the lineup against the Braves in the second half and the smaller lineup worked.

The Jackrabbits had a 26-6 advantage in points off turnovers and only missed one of their 29 free throws.

Douglas Wilson topped the team with 20 points and added 10 rebounds. Noah Freidel scored 16 points.

Dentlinger posted 13 points, Alex Arians had 11 and seven boards and Baylor Scheierman had 10 and a team-high 14 rebounds.

The Jackrabbits, who are the favorites to repeat as Summit League champions, were second in the NCAA in long-range shooting last season (40 percent).

“It’s honestly like amazing just knowing that I can pass the ball to one through four of the guys on the floor and just know that they’re shooting a high percentage, it just brings a lot of confidence to myself,” said Wilson, a preseason first-team selection.

–Field Level Media

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