NCAA First Round Game at 4:00 PM: Alabama ready for action against Rick Pitino and the surprising Iona Gaels

The Crimson Tide and Gaels will play in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University

INDIANAPOLIS – The Alabama men’s basketball team will face Iona Saturday afternoon inside Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University in the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament First Round. The No. 2 seed Crimson Tide, which also received the No. 5 overall seed in this year’s event, will tip off against the No. 15 seed Gaels at 3 p.m. CT and will be televised TBS.

Saturday’s matchup will mark the second meeting between Alabama and Iona with the Crimson Tide winning the only other match-up between the teams. That contest came on Dec. 29, 1989 when the Tide captured a 78-39 victory in the opening round of the Cable Car Classic in Santa Clara, Calif.

The Broadcast

  • Saturday’s game will be available on TBS with Andrew Catalon (play-by-play), Steve Lappas (analyst) and AJ Ross (sideline) on the call.
  • The radio broadcast can be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network with Chris Stewart (play-by-play), Bryan Passink (analyst) and Roger Hoover (sideline) on the call. The pregame show will begin one hour prior to tipoff.

NCAA Tournament Notes

  • The tournament trip is the 21st in program history and its first since 2018. UA is 19-20 all-time in the tournament and has advanced to the Sweet 16 seven times and the Elite Eight once (2004).
  • Alabama earned the program’s second No. 2 seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament which matches the highest seed in program history. Both the 1987 (Sweet 16, 2-1) and 2002 (Round of 32, 1-1) teams were also No. 2 overall seeds, combining to go 3-2 overall.
  • Iona owns a record of 12-5 overall and 6-3 in MAAC action, reaching the NCAA Tournament by winning the conference tournament title over Fairfield (60-51)
  • The winner of the Alabama vs. Iona game will advance to face the winner of the matchup between No. 7 UConn and No. 10 Maryland on Monday, 22
  • This is Nate Oats‘ fourth NCAA Tournament appearance as a head coach, with the others coming in 2016, 2018 and 201

Team Notes

  • Alabama ranks No. 2 in the Ken Pomeroy defensive efficiency ratings (as of 3/18). Last year, the Tide was rated by the same site at No. 114 in the category. The Tide also ranks No. 34 in offensive efficiency making UA one of just four teams in the nation to have a top-40 offense and a top-10 defense.
  • Alabama leads the nation in three-point field goals made (312) and attempted (912) (as of March 18) and is third in threes made per game (10.8). Furthermore, the Tide is also third nationally in average possession length on offense (14.1) and ninth in the nation in adjusted tempo (73.9 possessions per game).
  • Alabama boasts four seniors who have played more than 100 games. John Petty Jr. leads all players with 128 games played, followed by Herbert Jones (126), Alex Reese (121) and Jordan Bruner (104)
  • Alabama remained in the national rankings, moving up at No. 5 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Top-25 Polls. It’s the first time the Tide has been ranked in the AP Poll top five since December of 2004. In fact, the last time UA was ranked inside the AP Top Five during the Famed Rocket 8 team that finished No. 5 in the AP Poll.
  • Alabama captured the 2021 Southeastern Conference Tournament championship with a 80-79 victory over LSU in Sunday’s title game. It marks the seventh SEC Tournament trophy in Crimson Tide history and the first in 30 years, dating back to 1991. Combined with winning the program’s eighth SEC regular-season title, the Tide has now claimed a combined 15 SEC Championships in school history. The Tide owns a record of 70-53 (.569) in all-time SEC Tournament games, ranking second in tournament winning percentage and third in total tournament wins.
  • Guard Jahvon Quinerly was named the SEC Tournament Most Outstanding Player, averaging 15.7 points, 3.0 assists and 2.7 rebounds while shooting 59.4 percent (19-of-32) and 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from beyond the arc across the Tide’s three wins. Herbert Jones was also named to the All-Tournament team, averaging a double-double with 13.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and a team-leading 5.7 assists per game during the Tide’s tournament run.
  • The 80-79 win over LSU in the SEC Championship game on March 14 marked the Tide’s 18th game of scoring 80 or more points which is a new school record. The former program record was 17 80-point games in a season, which was set in three different seasons: 1976-77, 1978-79 and 2001-02. Good things happen when Alabama hits the  mark as the Tide is now 18-0 this season.
  • Herbert Jones was named the SEC Player and Defensive Player of the Year, while Nate Oats was tabbed the league’s Coach of the Year. It’s the first time an Alabama player has earned Defensive Player of the Year and the first time since 2002 the program has had a player and coach of the year. In addition, Jones and John Petty Jr. were named First Team All-SEC, while Jaden Shackelford earned second-team honors and Joshua Primo was named an all-freshman performer. The full list of SEC awards can be found in the column on the right.

About Alabama

  • Alabama enters postseason play ranked No. 5 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls. The Crimson Tide enters the NCAA Tournament riding a six-game winning streak to improve to 24-6 overall after finishing league play with a 16-2 mark. Alabama won both the regular season and tournament championships, claiming its eighth regular season conference championship in program history and seventh SEC tournament title.
  • The Crimson Tide will be the tournament’s No. 2 seed in the East Region and No. 5 overall seed in this year’s event, which returns from a one-year hiatus due to the global pandemic shut down. Alabama owns a record of 3-2 as a No. 2 seed, which came in 1987 (2-1) and 2002 (1-1).
  • The Tide has gone 18-3 over its last 21 games, with all three losses coming on the road to teams ranked in the top 25. Two of those three defeats were by a combined eight points, falling at then-No. 24 Oklahoma by five (66-61) and at then-No. 18 Missouri by three (68-65).
  • Four Crimson Tide players are averaging 11.0 or more points per game for head coach Nate Oats on the season. Guard Jaden Shackelford leads the way, averaging 14.2 ppg. Guard Jahvon Quinerly ranks second on the team in scoring average at 12.7 ppg, followed by guard John Petty Jr. (12.3 ppg) and forward Herbert Jones (11.2 ppg).
  • Jones headlined the SEC Postseason awards, earning Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors, while also earning a spot on the Sporting News All-America Team. Oats was selected as the Coach of the Year, while Petty, Shackelford an Joshua Primo each earned All-SEC recognition by various outlets. A complete list of the post season awards can be found on page 6.
  • Both Jones and Oats are semifinalists for Naismith Awards. Jones is a semifinalist for both the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year and Player of the Year honors. He is one of just two players in the nation to have earned a spot on both teams (Evan Mobley, USC). Meanwhile, Oats is one of 10 coaches named as a Naismith National Coach of the Year semifinalist.
  • The combination of Petty (70-of-187) and Shackelford (57-of-169) have combined to hit 127 of the Tide’s 320 three-pointers (40.0 percent) and have 356 of the team’s 912 total attempts from beyond the arc (39.0 percent). Combined, the duo is shooting 35.7 percent (127-of-356) from beyond the arc.
  • As a team, Alabama is outscoring the opposition by 9.8 points per contest (79.6-69.8) while shooting 43.1 percent from the field, 35.1 percent from deep and 72.0 percent from the charity stripe.
  • Alabama was picked to finish fifth as voted on by a select panel of both SEC and national media members. Additionally, Petty All-SEC Preseason First Team honors by both the coaches and media members, while Jones earned a spot on the preseason second team as voted on by the league’s head coaches.
  • Head coach Nate Oats is in his second season at the helm of the Crimson Tide program and owns a record of 40-21 (.656) during his time at the Capstone. Oats, who is in his sixth season as a collegiate head coach, owns a career record of 136-64 (.680).

About Iona

  • Iona enters the NCAA Tournament after having won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Tournament championship, defeating Fairfield 60-51 back on March 13. The Gaels improved to 12-5 across its 17-game schedule after finishing 6-3 versus league competition.
  • The Gaels overcame several bumps in the road in route to the program’s 15th NCAA Tournament appearance. Iona went on three different pauses throughout the course of the year. Head coach Rick Pitino didn’t make his coaching debut until Nov. 29, pausing activity for six games at the beginning of the year. On Dec. 29, the Gaels paused once again for 51 days, resuming action on Feb. 12. It was the longest pause by any Division I team this season. Finally, on Feb. 22, the Gaels were forced to cancel their five remaining regular season contests due to another positive test.
  • Despite owning the second-highest winning percentage in the MAAC, Iona was the No. 9 seed but captured four wins in a five-day span to earn its fifth-straight conference tournament championship. The Gaels defeated 8-seed Quinnipiac (72-48) on March 9, No. 1 seed Siena (55-52) on March 10, No. 5 Niagara (70-64) on March 12 and No. 7 Fairfield (60-51) on March 13.
  • The Gaels are led on the year by guard Isaiah Ross who tops Iona in points (18.4 ppg), field goals made (107) and attempted (235), threes made (43) and attempted (110) and minutes (34.2 mpg). Joining him is MAAC All-Freshman and finalist for the Kyle Macy National Freshman of the Year Nelly Junior Joseph. The 6-9, 230-pound forward leads the team in rebounding (7.6 rpg), blocks (1.5 bpg) and field goal percentage (59.5 percent) while averaging 11.4 points a game which is third-best on the team. Asante Gist also averages double figures at 13.3 ppg and is one of the top free throw shooters in the nation at 88.9 percent (72-of-81).
  • As a team, Iona is outscoring the competition by 6.3 points a contest (72.2-65.9), while shooting 44.5 percent from the field, 35.5 percent from beyond the arc and 74.3 percent from the charity stripe. Defensively, the Gaels limit the opposition to 39.9 percent from the floor and 30.1 percent from deep and average 7.4 steals per game.
  • Pitino becomes the third coach in college history to take five different teams to NCAA Tournaments with this year’s automatic bid. Now in his 33rd season as a collegiate head coach, Pitino has a 784-278 and a 54-19 record in the NCAA Tournament. Pitino holds the third highest winning percentage in NCAA Tournament games (.740) among all active coaches

Racking Up The Awards

  • Herbert Jones was named a Sporting News All-American (Third Team) while also earning the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, while Nate Oats was tabbed the league’s Coach of the Year, as the league office announced the 2021 postseason awards on March 9.
  • In addition to those honors, John Petty Jr. joined Jones as All-SEC First Team honorees, while Jaden Shackelford earned All-SEC Second Team recognition. Joshua Primo became the fifth straight UA rookie to earn a spot on the league’s all-freshman team, while Jones was also one of five named as an all-defensive team performer, earning the accolade for a second consecutive year.
  • Jones and Oats become the first Alabama duo to sweep the Player of the Year and Coach of the Year since Mark Gottfried and Erwin Dudley achieved the feat in 2002. Jones is the first Alabama player to earn the league’s Defensive Player of the Year honor and is just the third player in SEC history to sweep both the Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards (Anthony Davis (2011-12) and Tyler Ulis (2015-16).
  • In addition to his other hardware, Jones, who became the 20th All-American men’s basketball player in program history, was tabbed by USA Today as the league’s Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-SEC, while the AP selected him as the Player of the Year, earning 14 of the 18 first-place votes, as well as First Team All-SEC.
  • Furthermore, Petty was named Second Team All-SEC by the AP and Honorable Mention/Third Team by USA Today. Oats was a consensus Coach of the Year by all three outlets.

For all the latest information on the team, follow AlabamaMBB on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. General athletic news can be found at UA_Athletics on Twitter and Instagram and Alabama Athletics on Facebook.

COURTESY ALABAMA ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

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