TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — After redshirting last season due to injury, Javian Davis has been waiting almost two years to play live basketball again. He took advantage of his starting opportunity for Alabama on Monday night.
Davis scored 19 points and Alabama beat Florida Atlantic 78-59 to earn the first victory of the Nate Oats era.
"It's been a long journey. It's been a year and eight months since I played an actual basketball game," Davis said. "I can't take it for granted, just trying to improve everyday with my teammates and coaches."
In his first career start, Davis also recorded nine rebounds and two assists.
Both teams got off to slow starts offensively as the game was tied at five at the first TV timeout.
Florida Atlantic held the Alabama offense to two points for a more than five minutes stretch starting at the 9:57 mark in the first half.
Alabama responded by scoring 20 points over the last 4:48 of the first half to go into halftime with a 43-25 lead.
"During that run, I thought they shared the ball and played much more unselfish than us," said Florida Atlantic head coach Dusty May on Alabama's run before halftime.
The Crimson Tide was able to maintain that lead throughout the second half.
Alabama had to play with a shorter bench after two players fouled out for the Crimson Tide, and Herbert Jones did not play after suffering an injury against Penn.
"You know we had an eight-man rotation today that I thought played pretty hard, especially when you've got two guys foul out with 11 minutes to play," Oats said.
Another freshman Jaden Shackleford added 17 points off the bench for Alabama, and Kira Lewis Jr. finished with 16 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Junior guard Richardson Maitre finished with 18 points and seven rebounds for Florida Atlantic.
Oats said after the loss last week and the disappointing news about the eligibility of Jahvon Quinerly, this win was a positive step for the team.
"That loss in the opener to Penn gave us a wakeup call. We're 1-1, and it'd be great to be 2-0 going into our first road game," Oats said. "But I think the guys are playing well and gaining some confidence as they play the way we're asking them to."
Florida Atlantic: FAU shot 35.3-% from the free throw line, making only 6 of 17 of attempts.
Alabama: Alabama got 31 points from the bench, led by 17 from Jaden Shackelford compared to 19 total bench points from FAU.
Villanova transfer and former five-star recruit Jahvon Quinerly was denied his appeal by the NCAA to become eligible for Alabama for the 2019-2020 season. Alabama announced the decision less than three hours before tipoff Monday.
Florida Atlantic hosts Palm Beach Atlantic on Saturday.
Alabama faces their first road test of the year with a trip to Rhode Island on Friday night.
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