Alabama Basketball Opponent Preview: Jackson State Tigers

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama basketball takes on the Jackson State Tigers on Tuesday evening in Coleman Coliseum. The Crimson Tide are looking to bounce back from a weekend loss to Gonzaga. Jackson State enters the game with a 1-10 record, with their only win being a 69-68 victory over SMU.

Against high-major competition, Jackson State was competitive against Michigan and Mississippi State, losing both games by 10 points. The Tigers also lost to Indiana, TCU, and Texas Tech by an average margin of 38.7 points per game.

Jackson State is led by redshirt sophomore guard Ken Evans. Evans is averaging 11.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game, but has struggled in the month of December. The guard scored in double figures in each of Jackson State’s first six games, and was averaging nearly 16 points per game. In the five games since, he has yet to crack double figures and has averaged just 5.8 points per contest.

Redshirt senior wing Trace Young, an Alabama State transfer, may draw the unenviable task of guarding Brandon Miller. Young is a solid player in his own right, currently averaging 10.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, and has hit five three-pointers in two separate games.

Sophomore guard Coltie Young has provided some scoring punch during Evans’ slump. Young is averaging 9.5 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, but those numbers are somewhat misleading. He enters this game playing better than anybody on the team. In the last six games, Coltie Young is averaging 15 points per outing, and has eclipsed the 20-point mark twice.

Jackson State also has 5’8” point guard Chase Adams in its backcourt. Adams, a former middle school internet sensation, is averaging 4.4 points and 2.5 assists, and has started six games for JSU.

In the frontcourt, the Tigers rotate 6’7” senior forward Jamarcus Jones, 6’9” junior forward Romelle Mansel, and 6’6” sophomore forward Zeke Cook. Mansel, a Long Beach State transfer, is probably the best of the bunch. He is a versatile big, averaging 7.3 points, a team-high 5.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game.

Alabama Basketball: What to watch for

Alabama basketball should have a major size advantage in this game, and should dominate the glass. Brandon Miller presents a matchup nightmare, as he does against most opponents.

The most important thing in this game may be solidifying the backcourt rotation. Alabama has a trio of lead guards in freshman Jaden Bradley, transfer Mark Sears, and senior Jahvon Quinerly, who is returning from an injury.

This is a unique set of circumstances, and the three are still figuring out their roles respective to one another. Quinerly has not played well as of late, and is clearly still working to get comfortable on this new team.

If they are able to develop chemistry and play better together, this is one of college basketball’s top backcourts. Quinerly and Sears have both recorded 20-point games this season, and Bradley is coming off a career-high 18-point performance. Having three (or more) capable ball-handlers that can pass and score is one of the keys to being a championship-caliber team in modern college hoops.

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It will take some time before they are entirely comfortable operating in harmony, but this Jackson State game is the final test-run before conference play begins.

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