Photo courtesy of The Crimson White.

The Alabama Men’s Basketball team traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana to start their March Madness journey in the eastern bracket of the NCAA Tournament. The #2 seed would be facing the Iona Gaels in the first round and although the Tide came into the tournament a higher seed, they still had to earn the right to move on to the second round.

Iona proved to be a tough opponent, as the lead flip-flopped throughout the first half. Alabama capitalized off of turnovers, especially steals. The Tide was active on the ball, getting steals, tips, and deflections which turned into transition points and the occasional foul. The Gaels transition defense was not spared from a few dunks by Herb Jones and company.

John Petty Jr. sank a three on Bama’s third offensive possession but struggled from the arc after. He went 1/5 on his three-pointer attempts this game and has been in a scoring rut, despite being so crucial to Alabama’s wins with other aspects, such as leading the team with seven rebounds in this match-up against Iona. Five of which were defensive rebounds.

Iona was good at slowing the pace of the game down in the first half, trying to force Alabama to slow down their offense is what gets them frustrated. In all of the Crimson Tide’s losses this season, they haven’t played a quick pace, transition game. Iona came in close, to be down by only 1 point at halftime, 33-32. 

Alabama cleaned up their act in the second half, minimizing turnovers and ramping up their bench point production. Juwan Gary and Jahvon Quinnerly were racking up points, in transition and off rebounds. 

 The Tide focused on defense to generate space and make the Iona guards start the ball far from the three-point line and were quick to take charges and go for the ball when need be.

Jaden Shackelford hit a three to end the second to last possession, with Alex Reese holding up 3 fingers and doing a little dance to celebrate. The Crimson Tide shut down the Gaels offense and ran the clock to move on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, winning 68-55. 

The #2 seed Tide will take on the #10 seed Maryland to compete for a spot in the Sweet 16.