Shelton scored 21 of his points in the second half and seven in the last two minutes as the Crimson Tide went on a 10-point run to break a 73-73 tie. The visiting Lions did not score from the 2:14 mark until hitting a meaningless three-pointer with just four seconds to play.
The win improved Alabama's record to 2-1, while the Lions fall to 1-1. Bama will play at Providence Saturday night and return to Tuscaloosa to host North Carolina-Charlotte at 8 p.m. CST Wednesday, December 3. Tip-off for Saturday's game is set for 6:30 p.m. C.S.T. The game can be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network.
"Earnest Shelton kind of got in a zone and stepped up and made some shots," said Bama Head Coach Mark Gottfried. Shelton, who did not start the game, also had seven rebounds.
Alabama held a 38-31 halftime lead on the strength of 58 percent shooting in the first half, but Southeastern Louisiana battled back to take a 50-49 lead with 13:44 remaining in the game.
From there, Shelton took over for the Tide either tying the game or giving Alabama the lead on five different occasions before putting Alabama up for good with 1:52 remaining. Shelton scored seven of the Tide's final 10 points over the final two minutes to ice the game for Bama.
Shelton, a Memphis, Tennessee native, credited his team for his career night. "I didn't want to lose and my team found me when I was open," Shelton said. "They set great screens. The team played a big part in my 28 points."
Alabama shot very well from the field, but atrocious free throw shooting put the game in doubt. Bama missed 17 of 43 foul shots. For the second straight game Alabama was outscored from the field, but made enough free throws to make the difference. Southeastern Louisiana took 13 more shots from the field, including 12 more from three-point range, than did Alabama. The Lions were held to only 40.3 per cent shooting from the field, but hit 25 field goals, including nine three-point shots, for 59 points from the field. Alabama hit 53.1 per cent from the field, making 26 of 49 field goals including five-of-16 three-pointers for 57 points from the field.
Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried felt the game will serve as a lesson for his team. "We have got to make our foul shots and stop the careless turnovers," Gottfried said. "Hopefully, for our young group, they learned a lesson tonight that everybody we play has the potential to beat us period."
Kennedy Winston showed no ill effects of his off-season knee surgery for the first time this season. Winston played 33 minutes and had 19 points and a game-high nine rebounds. Alabama had a 40-33 edge in rebounding.
The Lions lost three players via fouls, including top scorer Jonathan Walker, who had 19 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Other Lions in double figures included Amir Abdur-Rahim (17 points), Michael Gardner (14 points), Jonathan Patton (11 points) and Terry West with 10 points.
There were 10 lead changes and five tied scores in the game. Bama's largest lead was 10 points on a couple of occasions, while the Lions managed a four-point lead at 14-10.
Alabama had a size advantage on the Lions and outscored the visitors 34-20 in the paint and 19-12 on second chance points. Both teams had 11 turnsovers with Southeastern Louisiana scoring 13 points off those opportunities, Bama only six points.
NOTE: Chris Woodfin of UA Media Relations contributed to this report.