Rick Pitino, unranked Iona upset No. 10 Alabama; 1. MAAC team beats a Top 10 team | Bleacher report

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Hiring legendary coach Rick Pitino pays off on the pitch for Iona.

The Gaels defeated No. 10 Alabama 72-68 on Thursday, becoming the first MAAC program to win a team in the Top 10 of the Associated Press poll, according to ESPN.com. The conference had been 0-119.

Alabama had a slim lead of 33-29 at the break and was not behind until Nelly Junior Joseph struck a couple of free throws to Iona with 5:34 left of the game. Elijah Joiner put Gaels ahead 69-65 with a three-pointer at the 1:17 mark, only for Jaden Shackelford to connect from long range at the other end.

Crimson Tide had a chance to at least equalize within the last 20 seconds, but Berrick JeanLouis blocked a Jahvon Quinerly layup attempt. Joseph collected the defensive rebound and hit a couple of penalty throws to secure the win.

Five Iona players scored double digits. Joseph had a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds), and Walter Clayton Jr. came in with 15 points from the bench.

Shackelford had a game-high 19 points, but shot only 6-of-17 from the field. He picked up 10 rebounds for the second double-double of the season.

Pitino was not rejected by Louisville in 2017 due to the Cardinals’ results. He later admitted that he “deserved to be fired” when the program was caught in the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball.

It looked like it could be the end for the 69-year-old as a college basketball coach.

But Pitino guided Iona to a record of 12-6 and an NCAA tournament spot in 2020-21. In his second year, the Gaels are 6-0 with a ranked win under the belt.

Aaron Torres @Aaron_Torres

Btw, at some point, some big AD will bite the bullet, handle a week of bad PR, and hire Pitino. And they’re going to look damn smart to do that.

With the portal, I think he could turn just about any high major into a tournament team within 2 years

Should Iona play her way back to the big dance, the Hall of Fame coach might want to put himself on the radar of a prominent school looking to fill a vacancy on the sidelines.

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