UND men's basketball to host Alabama in December

May 30—GRAND FORKS — The Alabama men's basketball team and Devils Lake native Grant Nelson will play a game in Grand Forks this season.

The Crimson Tide will play at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center on Dec. 18, 2024.

The Fighting Hawks will then play season-opening games in Tuscaloosa in 2025-2026 and 2027-2028. UND will receive $30,000 for each game.

This will be the first meeting between the two schools in UND program history.

"When Grant Nelson decided to go back to Alabama, coach (Jamie) Stevens reached out immediately to see if they had interest in bringing Grant back to his home state for a game, and to coach (Nate) Oats credit, they jumped on it," said UND men's basketball coach Paul Sather. "Not often do you get a potential Top-5 ranked team to come to Grand Forks. It should be an awesome environment and opportunity to compete against a great team on our home court."

The game will be in The Betty, which seats 3,300, so it counts as a true home game for UND. The Ralph Engelstad Arena, which can hold 11,640, would have turned the matchup into a neutral site game.

It will be a homecoming for Nelson, who is returning to Alabama for his fifth season after spending his first three years at North Dakota State.

Alabama advanced to the Final Four last season, losing to eventual NCAA champion Connecticut. Nelson posted two double-doubles in the NCAA Tournament, including a 19-point and 15-rebound effort in the Final Four against UConn.

Nelson became the first player since Kevin Love in 2008 to record more than 20 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in a Sweet 16 game or later. Nelson had 24 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks in Alabama's Sweet 16 win over North Carolina.

Nelson started all 37 games for the Tide last season and was named to the 2024 NCAA West Region All-Tournament team. Alabama finished 25-12 overall and ended ranked No. 3 in the final AP poll.

Nelson is 6-1 against UND in his college career. He scored a career-high 36 points against UND on Jan. 27, 2023, in a 91-75 NDSU win.

Nelson was ranked as the No. 17 transfer after the 2023 season, according to ESPN. He was the Summit League Sixth Man of the Year as a freshman and was an all-conference first team selection after the 2022-2023 season.

He was named North Dakota's Mr. Basketball as a senior in 2019-2020.

The game is reminiscent of Dec. 22, 2001, when Kansas played UND at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. Jeff Boschee, a Valley City native, was a senior guard for the Jayhawks. Kansas won 108-77, and Boschee ended with 23 points on 9-for-12 shooting.

UND will also add the University of Texas at San Antonio to its non-conference schedule.

The Hawks will travel to San Antonio on Nov. 8, 2024, for a game at the UTSA Convocation Center. UTSA will play a return game in Grand Forks on Dec. 15, 2024.

The game will be the first matchup between the two schools.

UTSA finished 11-21 overall and 5-13 in the American Athletic Conference last season. The Roadrunners hired Austin Claunch as their new head coach in March. Claunch spent last year as an assistant at Alabama.