Alabama signs ex-St. Bonaventure guard Dominick Welch

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama has signed former St. Bonaventure shooting guard Dominick Welch.

The Crimson Tide announced the signing Monday of the program’s second transfer this offseason, joining former Ohio point guard Mark Sears.

Welch started 105 games in his four-year career at St. Bonaventure and finished third in program history with 257 career 3-pointers. He averaged 12.3 points and 6.0 rebounds last season, helping the Bonnies make the NIT semifinals.

Alabama coach Nate Oats described Welch as “the perfect fit for what our program needed.”

“He is a versatile wing who has experience and can really score the ball,” Oats said. “He was one of the top shooters in the (Atlantic–10), leading the league in threes made per game last year, so we expect him to thrive in our system.”

Welch and Sears join a recruiting class ranked by 247Sports as third-best in the country, the program’s top-rated signing class.

Alabama freshman JD Davison declares for NBA draft

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama freshman point guard JD Davison is entering the NBA draft.

Davison, who is projected as a potential first-round pick, announced his decision on Instagram Wednesday. He didn’t say if he would be hiring an agent, but Davison told ESPN he was “done with college.”

Davison was the No. 9-ranked recruit and top point guard in the country last year, according to 247Sports.com.

“I’m grateful to every single coach and teammate who helped me get here, and I’m ready to show the world what I can do at the next level,” Davison wrote on Instagram.

He played in all 33 games, starting six. Davison averaged 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and a team-high 4.3 assists per game.

Leading scorer Jaden Shackelford has already declared for the draft and said he would hire an agent.

Players can still withdraw from the draft until June 1 if they hire an agent who is NCAA certified.

Alabama signs Ohio transfer point guard Mark Sears

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Former Ohio point guard Mark Sears, who averaged nearly 20 points a game last season, has transferred to Alabama.

Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats announced the signing of Sears on Tuesday. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder was a two-time All-Mid-American Conference performer who was a finalist for the Lou Henson Award given to the nation’s top player at a mid-major program.

Sears averaged 19.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game last season. A native of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, he shot 40.8% from 3-point range and 88.5% from the free throw line.

“Our entire staff felt like Mark was one of the best overall guards available in the transfer portal, so we really went after him hard,” Oats said. “He is a high character kid with great basketball feel who is a perfect fit for the way we want to play.

“He shoots the ball really well, he’s a great decision-maker and is terrific in transition.”

Alabama guards Jaden Shackelford, Jahvon Quinerly and Keon Ellis are exploring turning pro. Freshman JD Davison is also projected as a potential first-round pick.

Former Texas Tech guard Nimari Burnett missed last season after a right knee injury.

Notre Dame keeps rolling, beats Alabama 78-64 in first round

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SAN DIEGO – Cormac Ryan scored a career-high 29 points, including seven 3-pointers, and 11th-seeded Notre Dame recovered from a grueling First Four win and late-night flight to beat sixth-seeded Alabama 78-64 on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Ryan, a senior guard, was 10 of 13 from the field and made a career-best seven of his nine tries from beyond the arc for Notre Dame (24-10), which beat Rutgers in double overtime Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio, to earn a trip to San Diego.

Blake Wesley had 18 points while Paul Atkinson Jr. added 13 points and eight rebounds. The Fighting Irish missed six of their first seven shots but went 28 of 47 the rest of the way.

Keon Ellis led Alabama (19-14) with 16 points and Jaden Shackelford scored 13. Junior guard Jahvon Quinerly suffered a left knee injury early in the game and did not return. His knee was in an immobilizing brace when he came back to the Crimson Tide bench.

Notre Dame will play Texas Tech Sunday in the second round of the West Region. The third-seeded Red Raiders breezed to a 97-62 victory over Montana State earlier Friday.

The Irish had a 41-36 advantage at halftime. Alabama scored six straight points early in the second half to get within 44-42 before Notre Dame pulled away with a 17-5 run. Ryan and Wesley each had six points during the spurt and Atkinson added five.

Notre Dame’s largest lead was 76-60 with under two minutes remaining.

Neither team led by more than four points the first 18 minutes before Notre Dame scored nine straight points to grab a 41-33 advantage with 40 seconds left in the first half. Nate Laszewski had the first five points during the run, including a layup to give the Irish the lead. Juwan Gary hit a 3-pointer to draw Alabama within five points at halftime.

QUINERLY’S INJURY

Quinerly was driving to the basket when his knee appeared to buckle three minutes into the game. The junior guard was moaning in pain as he was clutching his knee while being looked at by trainers. He was then taken to the locker room without putting much weight on his left leg.

Quinerly is second on the Crimson Tide in scoring, averaging 13.8 points.

BIG PICTURE

Notre Dame: The Irish made 10 3-pointers, the sixth time in the past 11 games they’ve reached double digits in 3s.

Alabama: The Tide made consecutive NCAA appearances for the first time since 2006 but ended their season with four straight losses.

Gonzaga, Arizona remain atop AP Top 25 in week of changes

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The top six and seven of the top nine teams in the AP Top 25 lost on the same day last week, an unprecedented day of chaos that led to some big changes in this week’s poll – everywhere but at the top.

Gonzaga and Arizona remained the top two teams in the poll released Monday, holding steady despite both losing their most recent games.

The Zags received 43 first-place votes from the AP’s 61-person media panel after being a unanimous pick last week. No. 3 Baylor had four first-place votes and No. 4 Duke picked up 11. Auburn rounded out the top five.

Gonzaga, Arizona, Auburn, Purdue, Kansas and Kentucky all lost on Saturday, marking the first time in the AP poll era (1948-49) that the top six teams lost on the same day. No. 9 Texas Tech also lost, setting another record for most top-10 teams losing in one day.

“It’s kind of life in late February and early March, especially on the road,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said after the Zags’ 67-57 loss to No. 19 Saint Mary’s to close out their regular season.

Baylor was the biggest beneficiary of its Saturday win, moving up seven spots after beating Kansas 80-70. The Jayhawks fell one spot to No. 6 with the loss.

Auburn lost three spots from last week after losing to No. 13 Tennessee. No. 7 Kentucky fell a spot after losing to No. 14 Arkansas and Purdue dropped four places to No. 8 with its loss to Michigan State.

Got all that?

In all, every team but four got shuffled in this week’s poll; only Gonzaga, Arizona, No. 14 Houston and No. 16 Southern California held steady.

No teams fell out or moved into the poll, but things are getting awfully interesting with conference tournaments just around the corner.

BATTLING BEARS

Baylor, the reigning national champion, looked like a good bet to get back to the Final Four at the start of the season after opening 15-0 while holding the No. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 for five weeks.

Then things got a little shaky.

The Bears lost consecutive home games for the first time since 2015-16, then injuries began piling up, including a gruesome leg injury to forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua.

After tumbling down the poll, Baylor may be finding its footing. The Bears won a rematch over Oklahoma State in Stillwater and did the same against Kansas on Saturday, improving to 10-1 against top-10 teams the past two seasons.

“I know our team looked a little bit different in the beginning of the year than we do now but don’t count these guys out,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “They persevere.”

RISING/FALLING

Baylor’s jump was the biggest of the week by gaining seven spots. Tennessee, Arkansas and Saint Mary’s all climbed four spots.

No. 17 UCLA and No. 20 Illinois had the biggest drops (five spots). The Bruins lost to Oregon before beating Oregon State last week and the Illini lost to No. 23 Ohio State before knocking off Michigan.

CONFERENCE WATCH

The Big Ten and Southeastern conferences led the way again this week, each with five teams ranked. The Big 12 had four ranked teams, with the Pac-12 and Big East getting three each. The West Coast Conference had two ranked teams for the second straight week, with the Atlantic Coast, American Athletic and Ohio Valley conferences at one each.

Quinerly leads No. 24 Alabama to 74-72 win over Vanderbilt

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jahvon Quinerly got the message Alabama coach Nate Oats sent by bringing the junior guard off the bench.

Quinerly responded, scoring 17 of his 19 points after halftime to help the 24th-ranked Crimson Tide rally from a nine-point deficit in the first half and hold off Vanderbilt 74-72 Tuesday night.

“I was just trying to be aggressive even though shots aren’t really falling for me,” Quinerly said. “I was just trying to stay aggressive and be engaged and bring as much positive energy to the team as I could.”

Oats said the team challenged Quinerly to be better on defense and play harder, knowing the Tide won’t win big games without that.

“He definitely answered the challenge,” Oats said.

Alabama (18-10, 8-7 Southeastern Conference) has won four of five, and the Crimson Tide had to shake off a cold-shooting first half in which they trailed 37-28 with 90 seconds left. They also had to hold on at the free-throw line late after missing seven of their final eight shots from the field.

Quinerly got the Tide going with his big second-half performance and hit two free throws with 28.4 seconds left for a 73-70 lead.

Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse noted Quinerly made some big shots, including some 3s a couple of feet beyond the 3-point line.

“He’s a very capable shooter, a shooter who hadn’t been shooting that well, but what’s new?” Stackhouse said. “Guys that hadn’t been shooting that well find a way to shoot it a little bit better than they normally do against us.”

Scotty Pippen Jr., the SEC’s leading scorer, made 10 of 12 at the foul line in the final 3:49 to help pull Vanderbilt to 71-70. But his second attempt missed with a chance to tie it with 46.1 seconds left. Vanderbilt also had a final opportunity to tie or win, but Jordan Wright’s layup rolled over the rim with 4.8 seconds to go.

“They just played harder than us,” Pippen said.

Vanderbilt (14-13, 6-9) had its four-game winning streak at Memorial Gym snapped and has lost three of the last four – all to Top 25 teams.

Pippen finished with 26 points despite not scoring in the second half until a free throw with 3:49 left. Liam Robbins had 16 points.

Noah Gurley added 11 points for Alabama, and JD Davison and Keon Ellis each had 10.

Quinerly keyed an 11-3 run with a pair of 3-pointers, and Gurley’s three-point play with 12:53 left gave Alabama a 46-45 lead that was its first since 5-4 in the opening minutes. After Robbins’ back-to-back jumpers pulled Vandy to 55-53, Quinerly hit a driving layup, a deep 3 and another layup for Alabama’s biggest lead at 64-53.

Vanderbilt led 37-32 at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

Alabama: The Tide outrebounded Vanderbilt 41-37. Their big boost came at the free-throw line, even though Vandy made more trips. A team that normally shoots 72.1% at the line made 88% (22 of 25).

“Everybody wants to complain about Alabama free-throw shooting,” Oats said. “But shoot, we don’t win this game without every last free throw. We needed them tonight.”

Vanderbilt: The Commodores’ sticky defense paid off with a 32-18 scoring edge off turnovers, with 12 of Alabama’s turnovers coming on steals. … Vanderbilt went 27 of 36 at the foul line. Pippen was 14 for 18.

“We gave ourselves a chance to win the game,” Stackhouse said. “In the end, we need to execute a little bit better.”

NIP AND TUCK

The series has been very tight no matter the rankings or records. This was the 18th of the last 19 games decided by 10 or fewer points and 11th decided by five or less. Alabama has won 10 during that stretch.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Alabama has played one of the toughest schedules in the nation, with a 5-4 record against Top 25 teams.

UP NEXT

Alabama starts a two-game homestand Saturday against South Carolina.

Vanderbilt visits Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon.