It was a historic night in Tuscaloosa for more than one reason.
Across the street from the room, DeVonta Smith won the Heisman Trophy. The Alabama basketball team did something pretty rare themselves.
The 86-71 win over Florida not only earned the Tide a winning streak in four games, but also ended a streak of home futures against the Gators that nearly went 1
5 years ago. The Coleman Coliseum’s last win over Florida was in February 2006 before losing eight straight.
It got a good response after disrupting the top 10 in Tennessee on Saturday.
Alabama (8-3, 3-0 SEC) hasn’t lost since a visit from West Kentucky on December 19, and they made it Tuesday without a star in that run.
Point guard Jahvon Quinerly was out with what coach Nate Oats called a “disease”. The second year had broken out of a pre-season slump and scored 16.6 points in the three-game winning streak, including a season high of 24 against Ole Miss.
“It’s definitely not an end-of-season violation or anything,” Oats said, noting that due to privacy laws, he couldn’t say more.
Without him, the tide hit the committee 26 minutes before Jaden Shackelford became the team’s first double-digit goalscorer. He was one of five to finish there with 16 points, with Herbert Jones and Keon Ellis making his total.
“Our self-confidence is high,” said Ellis, “but we never get big heads because everyone can beat you every day.”
Florida (5-2, 2-1) scored the first five points of the game, trading blows with Alabama in the first half before the hosts broke up after the break.
A 16-2 run called by Petty’s 3-pointer brought the tide to 16 with just over 12 minutes of play. The Alabama lead rose to 21 in the second half.
Ellis, a JUCO transfer, was a spark in the first half, making his first three 3-point shots and finishing with his top 16 of the season.
“He grew up an hour and a half from Florida campus so I thought it was big for him,” Oats said. “He was ready to play tonight. I thought his exertion and energy … he was plus 30 when he was in the game. That’s the biggest plus-minus I’ve seen in a 15-point game. “”
Florida only shot 40% and couldn’t keep up with the tide in the painted area. A 46:28 edge near the edge made up for the tide, which for the first time in four games failed to score a double-digit 3-point hit. Alabama was 8-for-20 in size.
James ‘Rojas’ season high 15 was mostly done in color.
“Our confidence, we know it’s just us and we have to trust each other every day,” said Rojas. “I think our confidence just makes us better as a team.”
This 73:71 loss to WKU on December 19 was a turning point for this team in Alabama.
“Losing them,” Ellis said, “I think we were favorites, kind of woke us up. You just have to bring it with you every night. “
Alabama is next traveling to Auburn to play at the Auburn Arena on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Michael Casagrande is a reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @ ByCasagrande or further Facebook.