Rick Pitino earns first signature win since returning to school teaching in Iona’s upset of No. 10 Alabama

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After main Iona to an NCAA Event look in his first season again in school basketball, Rick Pitino is barely constructing off that momentum to start his second season. Pitino’s Gaels knocked off No. 10 Alabama 72-68 on Thursday within the ESPN Occasions Invitational. The victory marked Pitino’s first victory over a group from a serious convention since he led Louisville to a 71-64 win within the closing sport of the 2016-17 common season, and there was nothing flukey about it. 

Iona gained regardless of making simply 4 of 21 makes an attempt from 3-point vary because the Gaels improved to 6-0 by outscoring the Crimson Tide 43-35 within the second half. 5 gamers reached double figures for Pitino’s squad, led by Joseph Nelly’s 15 factors, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks. 

Joseph was the third-leading scorer on final season’s Iona group, which completed 12-6 and earned a No. 15 seed within the Massive Dance by advantage of its MAAC Event title. Sarcastically, the Gaels performed Alabama of their first spherical NCAA Event sport, falling 68-55 after trailing simply 33-32 at halftime. 

Pitino seems to have solely upgraded his roster since then. With SMU switch guard Tyson Jolly and Tulsa switch guard Elijah Joiner now on the group, Pitino has two seniors in his again courtroom who have been unfazed by Alabama’s high quality guards. The dividends of Pitino’s nationwide recruiting potential have been additionally on show, as true freshman Walter Clayton Jr. added 15 factors off the bench. Clayton was a coveted soccer prospect who spurned energy convention choices on the gridiron to play basketball for Pitino within the northeast.

Alabama (4-1) was led by 19 factors from Jaden Shackelford and 15 from Jahvon Quinerly. Iona performs Friday within the semifinals towards both Belmont or Drake, whereas Alabama will play the loser. Alabama’s loss eliminates the potential of a top-10 matchup between the Crimson Tide and No. 3 Kansas within the occasion’s championship sport.

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