No. 10/9 Alabama Ready for Thanksgiving Day Rematch with Iona in ESPN Events Invitational Opening Round

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama will travel away from Coleman Coliseum for the first time this season when it competes in the ESPN Events Invitational, which will be played Nov. 25, 26 and 28 at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. The Crimson Tide will open the event against Iona, which will tip off on Thanksgiving Day at 4 p.m. CT (5 p.m. ET) on ESPN or ESPN2.

The Crimson Tide and Gaels will be a rematch of the 2021 NCAA Tournament first round contest which was played in Indianapolis. Alabama won that game, 68-55, to advance to the Round of 32. The winner/loser of that contest will play the winner/loser of the Belmont vs. Drake game Friday.

This marks the second time that Alabama will appear in the ESPN Events Invitational. The Crimson Tide went 2-1 in the 2015 edition of the tournament. Alabama opened the event with a 64-45 loss to then-No. 22 Xavier in the opener but responded with back-to-back wins over Wichita State 64-60) and Notre Dame (74-73).

The Broadcast

  • Thursday’s game will be available on ESPN or ESPN2 with Doug Sherman (play-by-play) and Daymeon Fishback (analyst) on the call
  • The radio broadcast can be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network with Roger Hoover (play-by-play) and Bryan Passink (analyst) on the call. The pregame show will begin one hour prior to tipoff.

Notes You Need To Know

  • Alabama is coming off an 86-59 win over Oakland last Friday night in Coleman Coliseum. The win not only improved the Tide to 4-0 on the year, which is the best start since beginning the 2017-18 campaign by winning its first five contests, but also marked the team’s 14th-straight win at home and 25th consecutive victory when reaching 80 points in a contest.
  • Alabama cracked the top-10 entering play in Orlando this week, checking in tied with Kentucky at No. 10 in the nation in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, which was released Monday. The Crimson Tide also is also ranked No. 9 in the Ferris Mowers USA Today Coaches Poll. In fact, Alabama and Baylor stand as the only two programs currently ranked in the AP top 10 in both football and men’s basketball.
  • Alabama challenged itself with what is one the toughest non-conference schedule in the nation this season. In all, the Tide will face four non-conference opponents currently ranked in the poll’s top-12 of the latest AP Poll – No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 6 Baylor, No. 9 Memphis, No. 12 Houston (possibility of playing No. 4 Kansas in Orlando) – and have 16 games against teams either ranked or receiving votes in this weeks AP Poll
  • Iona is one of the eight teams on Alabama’s schedule (seven in non-conference and SEC preseason favorite) that were picked to win their respective league. Furthermore, the Tide will take on three of last year’s final four teams (No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 6 Baylor and No. 12 Houston)
  • Alabama is averaging 10.8 threes made per game and 34.0 threes attempted per game (43-of-136). In comparison, opponents are averaging just 6.5 made threes on 26.3 attempts a contest. Last season, the Crimson Tide led the nation and set a new school record in both threes made (348) and attempted (989) as well as threes made per game (10.5).
  • Jaden Shackelford became the 53rd player in program history to ecplise the 1,000-point plateau, doing so in his  68th career game – just four games into his junior season. For his career, the Hesperia, Calif., native has averaged 14.8 ppg and scored 1,005 career points.
  • Head coach Nate Oats signed the No. 3-ranked recruiting class in the nation, according to both Rivals and 247Sports. The highest-ranked signing class in program history included a pair of five-star signees – a first in program history – and three additional four-star prospects.
  • The Crimson Tide is currently ranked No. 6 in KenPom’s offensive tempo, 12th in offensive efficiency rankings and No. 33 in defensive efficiency. Through its opening four contests, Alabama is averaging 89.0 points per game, while shooting 46.7 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from beyond the arc. Defensively, the Tide is limiting the opposition to 69.8 points per game on 39.2 percent shooting from the floor and 24.8 percent from deep.
  • Alabama is off to a hot start on the offensive end of the floor, thanks in large part to the play of senior Keon Ellis. Ellis, a native of Eustis, Fla., is averaging 14.5 points and leads the team in rebounding (8.3 rpg), steals (2.3 spg) and free throws made (16) and attempted (18). Furthermore, he also has a team-leading plus-minus of +83 across the Tide’s first four contests.

About Alabama

  • The Crimson Tide is led by four players who average double figures in Jaden Shackelford (19.5 ppg), Jahvon Quinerly (15.5 ppg), Keon Ellis (14.5 ppg) and Darius Miles (10.3 ppg). The quartet combine to account for 67 percent (59.8 of the 89.0 points per game average), 84 percent of the three-pointers made (36 of 43), 64 percent field goals made (83 of 129) and 67 percent of the total free throws made (37 of 55).
  • As a team, Alabama is averaging 89.0 ppg and outscoring the competition by an average of 19.3 points per game (89.0-69.8). The Tide is averaging 10.8 threes made per game, while shooting 46.7 percent from the field, 31.6 percent from beyond the arc and 70.5 percent from the charity stripe. UA also owns a rebounding margin of +9.5 (47.0-37.5) for the year.
  • The Crimson Tide ranks 33rd nationally in defensive efficiency entering the contest. For the year, Alabama has held opponents to an average of 69.8 points per game while limiting foes to 39.2 percent shooting from the field and just 24.8 percent from beyond the arc.
  • Alabama was picked to finish second in the league in voting by a select panel of both SEC and national media members. Kentucky was the preseason favorite to win this year’s regular season title, followed by the Tide, Arkansas, Tennessee and Auburn to round out the top five. Both Quinerly and Shackelford were named to the SEC Preseason First Team.
  • Alabama returns its top two scorers and 10 letterwinners from last season’s SEC Championship team that went on to finish 27-6 overall and 16-2  in the SEC while claiming the 2021 SEC regular season and tournament championships.
  • UA won the program’s eighth SEC regular season championship a year ago, finishing with a 16-2 league record which tied for the most wins in the conference in program history. In addition to claiming the 2021 crown, the Crimson Tide also claimed regular season titles in 1934, 1956, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1987 and 2002.
  • Alabama claimed its seventh SEC Tournament titles last year. It was the first tournament title by the Tide in 30 years, with the last coming in 1991. In all, the Tide has won 15 combined championships – the eight regular season titles ranking third-most and the seven tournament championships ranking second-best in the league.

About Iona

  • Iona enters the ESPN Events Invitational sporting a perfect 5-0 record to start the season, winning its first three games at home before capturing wins in back-to-back days in the ASun/MAAC Challenge. The Gaels opened the event, which was held in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., with a 54-50 win over Liberty on Nov. 19 followed by an 81-65 win over North Alabama on Nov. 20.
  • Four Iona players average in double figures entering tournament action led by Nelly Junior Joseph and Tyson Jolly who average 16.6 and 16.0 points per game respectively. Dylan van Eyck has come off the bench in all five contests to average 12.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists a game while Quinn Slazinski contributes 10.8 points per outing.
  • Junior Joseph, who collected six points, six rebounds and two assists in 33 minutes of action vs. the Crimson Tide in the NCAA Tournament match-up, also tops the team in rebounding (7.2 rpg), field goals made (27), free throws made (28) and attempted (42) and blocks (8). Meanwhile, Elijah Joiner is the team leader with 3.5 assists while also adding 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
  • Iona was unanimously selected to finish first in the MAAC Preseason Coaches Poll by the league’s 11 head coaches, while Junior Joseph was selected to the Preseason All-MAAC First Team. Last season, the sophomore guard earned MAAC Rookie of the Year honors.
  • Iona returns 10 players from the 2020-21 MAAC Tournament championship team, including a pair of starters in Junior Joseph and Berrick JeanLouis. Also returning is van Eyck, who was the team’s sixth man a year ago.
  • The Gaels welcomed six players which include three high-major transfers in Elijah Joiner (Tulsa), Tyson Jolly (SMU) and Quinn Slazinski (Louisville)
  • Iona head coach Rick Pitino, who became the third coach in college history to take five different teams to NCAA Tournaments with last year’s automatic bid, is now in his 34th season as a collegiate head coach. Pitino has a 787-277 (.739) overall record and a 17-6 (.739).

Alabama-Iona: The Rematch

  • Alabama and Iona will square off for the second time in the Tide’s last eight games dating back to last season’s 68-55 victory in the opening round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, which was played in Indianapolis, Ind., on March 20, 2021.
  • In last year’s contest, the No. 2 seeded Crimson Tide held a one-point advantage at intermission, 33-32, but used an 18-4 second half run to hold off the 15th-seeded Gaels and advance to the second round.
  • In all, the contest featured 12 ties and two lead changes. The last lead change came with Alabama trailing 42-40 at the 12:13 mark when it scored five quick points to jumpstart the game-changing run.
  • UA returnees Jahvon Quinerly (11) and Jaden Shackelford (10) each recorded double figures in the victory.

About The ESPN Events Invitational

  • Four of the eight teams are seeded in’s latest Bracketology: No. 1-seed Kansas, No. 3 Alabama, No. 12 Belmont and No. 15 Iona
  • Five of the eight teams in the field reached the 2021 NCAA Tournament: Alabama (Sweet 16), Kansas and North Texas (second round), as well as Drake and Iona
  • Alabama returns to the ESPN Events Invitational for the first time since 2015 and joins Iona (2009) and Miami (2016) as schools making their second appearance in the event
  • Dayton is making its third appearance (2011, 2015), while Kansas also returns for the first time since winning the tournament in 2014
  • The first-round matchup between UA and Iona will be a rematch of last year’s NCAA Tournament opening game in which the No. 2 seed Tide held on to down the 15th-seeded Gaels, 68-55
  • The other matchup on Alabama’s side of the bracket pits Drake against Belmont with the winners squaring off to meet in Friday’s semifinal and the losers meeting in the consolation bracket
  • On the opposite side of the bracket, Dayton will face Miami and North Texas will take on Kansas
  • Dayton played in the 2021 National Invitation Tournament

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