TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Jahvon Quinerly and Alabama fired away early, building a big lead with one 3-pointer after another.
Then the Crimson Tide got hot again when the game tightened up.
Jaden Shackelford had 21 points and Quinerly scored 18 of his 20 points before halftime to lead No. 24 Alabama to a 90-71 victory over South Carolina on Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide (19-10, 9-7 Southeastern Conference) built a 23-point halftime cushion and brushed off a second-half comeback attempt by the Gamecocks (17-11, 8-8). Alabama has won five of its last six games.
“Before the second half started, we said it in the locker room. This is the SEC,” said Keon Ellis, who scored 17 points for the Tide. “No team is straight-out terrible, so they’re going to have their run. Just don’t let that affect us.
“Just keep playing. Just withstand it and know that we’ll break through.”
Quinerly and Shackelford both made four 3-pointers. Quinerly went 4 of 5 from 3-point range, all in that scorching first half. He also had five assists.
Quinerly delivered 17 second-half points and 19 overall against Vanderbilt earlier in the week when he was benched at the start for lack of defensive effort coming into the game. He has made 7 of 8 3s in those two games.
“That's pretty good shooting,” Oats said in an obvious understatement.
Ellis added seven rebounds and four assists for Alabama. Charles Bediako scored 11 points, and JD Davison added 10.
Erik Stevenson had 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds for South Carolina. James Reese V added 14 points and Jermaine Couisnard had 13.
“They definitely played faster than we did,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. "When I say fast, I don’t mean running the court. I mean, defensively, offensively.
“We had some guys that weren’t playing at the same speed Alabama was playing with, and that’s disappointing.”
South Carolina did make it interesting for awhile in the second half.
The Tide built a 50-27 halftime lead on hot shooting, especially from Quinerly and Shackelford. Then the Gamecocks cooled them off considerably, pulling to 58-52 on Erik Stevenson's fast-break layup eight minutes into the second half.
Shackelford hit back to back 3-pointers to help Alabama pull away again.
Alabama missed its first nine shots of the second half.
“We’ve got to mature a little bit, play just as hard with a 23-point lead as we do when we’re only up six,” Oats said. “That’s the area we’ve got to grow. But when we got it cut to six, I think we showed some maturity, got some stops, got some buckets, opened it back up, which showed a lot about our team."
The Tide started the first half much hotter, making nine of 10 shots during one stretch and getting their first four makes all from 3-point range.
The Gamecocks couldn't keep up on the court or the scoreboard.
“We had a good gameplan," Stevenson said. “The first 20 minutes of that game, we just didn’t play with enough energy, enough fight. It was pretty lackadaisical, to be honest.”
South Carolina couldn't sustain the momentum of its first four-game league winning streak in February since joining the SEC in 1992. Committed 15 turnovers by halftime and 19 overall.
Alabama is still struggling to put a 40-minute game together but built enough of a lead to weather the second-half slump without being in too much jeopardy. Made 9 of 18 3-pointers in the first half.
Alabama started walk-ons Tyler Barnes and Britton Johnson for Senior Night, though the team has one more home game. Neither scored during that stretch but they left with the Tide up 12-5 thanks to a 3-point barrage. Quinerly, James Rojas and Ellis were also honored postgame.
Reese started his college career playing for Oats at Buffalo in the 2017-18 season.
“It was good seeing him," Reese said. “We don’t have any bad blood with each other and I just wished him good luck for the rest of the season and they did the same for me.”
South Carolina: Hosts Missouri on Tuesday night.
Alabama: Hosts Texas A&M on Wednesday night.
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