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Gonzaga Basketball

Recap and highlights: No. 16 Alabama shoots its way to large halftime lead, hangs on to beat No. 3 Gonzaga in Seattle

It was a day to remember for Alabama, winning the Southeastern Conference Championship over No. 1 Georgia in football, and a night cap win over No. 3 Gonzaga in basketball. 

Despite being underdogs in both games, the pair of Bulldogs were the ones outmatched.

The Crimson Tide (7-1) cruised to a 16-point lead at halftime over the Zags (7-2), and held on to win 91-82 in the Battle in Seattle on Saturday night at Climage Pledge Arena.

Although it will go down as a “neutral site game” nearly all of the 18,048 in attendance were in support of GU. The hostile environment did little to intimidate Jordan Shackelford and Alabama out the gate, as the guard piled on six 3-pointers on seven attempts for 20 points before the half.

Shackelford finished with a team-high 28 points with nine rebounds, added to by J.D. Davison’s 20 and Jahvon Quinerly’s 17.

Gonzaga chipped away at the Crimson Tide’s lead throughout the second half, and pulled within four points at 74-70 with 6:35 remaining.

Alabama promptly went on a 12-2 run to seal the game.

GU was led by Drew Timme’s 23 points, though he went 3 of 8 from the free throw line.

The loss capped a bad week for the Zags, who were unimpressive during a sloppy win over Tarleton State on Monday. Things get easier though with Merrimack on Thursday, followed by Washington on Dec. 12 – if that game is even played, as the Huskies deal with COVID-19. 

Hold off on the panic button for now. But if the Zags manage to lose either of their next two, it will be time to smash it.

First half

15:36 - GU 11, Alabama 10: Holmgren with a strong start, fights hard through two defenders to find Timme who leads all scorers with six points. He is 3 for 5 from the floor. The Bulldogs have been able to run a couple times, but have also executed out of their halfcourt sets. 

11:26 - GU 18, Alabama 18: A very equal start for both teams at the second media timeout. Bulldogs have two made 3’s to Alabama’s four. GU still working to figure out the length and athleticism of the Tide. Timme and Jaden Shackelford each have six points.

7:50 - Alabama 31, GU 22: A real struggle for the Zags here in Seattle. Alabama is finding loads of space on the perimeter and has made GU pay. The Tide are shooting 40% from behind the arc, knocking down 6 of 15. On the offensive end, the Bulldogs have been unable to get out and run because of the solid-shooting Tide. 

5:32 - Alabama 36, GU 25: Mark Few is unhappy with the defensive rotations by the Bulldogs after another made 3 for Alabama. He calls a timeout, chatting with the refs as the team collects around the bench. Zags not helping themselves at the charity stripe where they are 3 for 8. 

4:41 - Alabama 36, GU 30: A five-point outburst in less than a minute forces a Tide timeout. Four points off of turnovers, including a slam.  

3:41 - Alabama 36, GU 31: Media timeout before the Tide shoot three free throws after Sallis fouls the shooter behind the arc. Bulldogs slowing down Alabama, forcing three turnovers in under 2 minutes. They have been able to get out and run, getting the crowd at Climate Pledge Arena to their feet. Bulldogs still not making their free throws, but Alabama is worse at 5 for 12. 


Another slow start for Gonzaga, but this time to an opponent it can ill-afford to surrender a lead to. 

GU trails Alabama 51-35, as Jaden Shackelford has lit up the floor with 20 points on 6 of 7 shooting on 3-pointers.

The Zags have struggled to contain the Tide, allowing loads of space all over the court. The final three minutes of the first half was a nightmare for GU, not scoring a bucket while Alabama extended its lead to 16. 

The Tide are solid shooters, but GU has made it easy on them, failing to guard Nate Oats’ analytic-based layup, 3-pointer or bust offense. 

The Bulldogs have a lot of work in the second half. 

Second half

15:59 - Alabama 55, GU 46: The exact start that the Bulldogs needed. A 7-0 run this half cuts into the Crimson Tide lead. Eight of the nine GU points have been provided by Timme and Holmgren with four apiece. Alabama hasn’t scored in over two minutes. 

12:20 - Alabama 64, GU 54: The Bulldogs threaten the lead, before Alabama snatches it back. Few calls a timeout, visibly unhappy with his team’s performance on the defensive end. And rightfully so, the Zags haven’t cleaned up the massive defensive lapses, ending in easy buckets for Alabama. The comeback is available for GU if it defends better.

11:18 - Alabama 68, GU 54: A media timeout gives the Bulldog coaching staff another chance to regroup. But the Zag body language walking toward the bench wasn’t too inspiring. Few has spent a lot of time with his arms crossed this half. Alabama is well in control of this game, out performing the Zags in all facets.

7:38 - Alabama 74, GU 66: Bulldogs shrink the Crimson Tide lead on a 12-5 run at the under 8 media timeout. Gary, Bediako, Gurley and Miles all with four fouls apiece for Alabama.

GU continuing to struggle from the free throw line, just 11 of 22 in the game. Timme leads the Zags with 19 points, Shackelford leads Bama with 28.

3:52 - Alabama 76, GU 72: Things have gotten contentious at the final media timeout.

Timme saves a basket with a monster block on a layup by Gurley and Hickman misses a 3-point attempt off the front rim on the other end, that could have shrunk the Bama lead to one point. 

Crimson Tide hasn’t scored in just over two minutes. 

2:43 - Alabama 82, GU 72: Just like that the Zags are forced to take a timeout after back-to-back 3-pointers from Quinerly, who drains the second in the corner right in the face of Timme.

Starting 5


The Battle in Seattle is back after a six year hiatus, but now with a new venue – the Climate Pledge Arena.

No. 3 Gonzaga (7-1) takes on No. 16 Alabama (6-1) at 5 p.m. on ESPN2. The Bulldogs are coming off a 64-55 win over Tarleton State while the Crimson Tide beat Miami 96-64.

The Zags looked sluggish in their last game, coming off a vegas hangover and a 84-81 loss to Duke. Alabama lost to Iona in the first game of the ESPN Events Invitational 72-68 on Nov. 25, before beating Drake and the Hurricanes in Orlando, Florida.

It will be Gonzaga’s fourth top-20 game of the year, beating then-No. 5 Texas, then No. 2 UCLA and losing to then-No. 5 Duke. Alabama has not played a top-25 foe, but face No. 3 Gonzaga, No. 15 Houston and No. 18 Memphis over the next 10 days.

Series history

This is the first meeting between Gonzaga and Alabama, and will be the 11th Southeastern Conference team to play against the Zags.

The Bulldogs have a 16-9 all-time record against the SEC, most recently beating Auburn 90-67 on Nov. 27, 2020. The only SEC teams with a winning record over the Zags is Kentucky (1-0) with a 80-72 win in 2002.

GU’s first SEC game was a 70-68 win over Mississippi State in 1997.

Team stats

  Alabama Gonzaga
Points 85.7 86.8
Points allowed 69.4 62.5
Field goal pct. 48.5 54.5
Rebounds 43.3 41.1
Assists 15.1 13
Blocks 5.1 5.8
Steals 6.9 6.1
Streak Won 2 Won 1

Individual leaders

Jaden Shackelford (UA) 18 41.9 65
Drew Timme (GU) 17.4 62.2 69.2
Keon Ellis (UA) 7.3 5.4 1.9
Julian Strawther (GU) 7.3 4.9 2.4
JD Davison (UA) 4.9 3.2 24.4
Andrew Nembhard (GU) 5.4 2.6 30.6

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