Brandon Miller heated up, as did Alabama, which avoided the fate of two other top NCAA Tournament seeds and defeated Maryland 73-51 behind a dominating second half on Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide (31-5) advanced to their second Sweet 16 in the last three tournaments and ninth overall. Alabama will face fifth seed San Diego State in the South Region semifinals in Louisville, Kentucky on Friday.
Before the game even singled out two of the top seeds, Purdue and defending national champion Kansas, had fallen, and No. 1 seed Houston trailed Tide rival Auburn by 10 points at halftime earlier. at Legacy Arena before walking away.
Alabama and Miller got off to a slow start, but the All-America freshman and NBA’s top prospect finished with 19 points after going scoreless in first-round play. Miller suffers a groin injury and missed his first nine shots of the tournament.
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Jahvon Quinerly scored 22 points on the first anniversary of his left knee injury early in a second-round loss to Notre Dame, which still limited him earlier this season. Quinerly made 4 of 6 triples.
Charles Bediako had 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Alabama starters jumped to the bench with a couple of minutes left amid chants of «Sweet 16» from the friendly crowd.
Julian Reese scored 14 points for Maryland (22-13) before fouling out. Jahmir Young scored 12.
Alabama, the first overall seed, faced little drama, unlike the other No. 1s.
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No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson defeated top seed Purdue 63-58 on Friday in only the second such upset. Then No. 8 Arkansas beat the Jayhawks 72-71 on Saturday. Houston finally pulled away from Auburn as the Tide waited for their chance.
The first half was more to Maryland’s liking aside from the 28-23 deficit, as one team came in giving up just 63 points per game.
Maryland: The 2002 national champion Terps failed to make his 15th trip to the Sweet 16 in coach Kevin Willard’s first season. They also lost to Alabama in the second round two years ago under former coach Mark Turgeon. Maryland’s defense was on point enough to hold the lead for much of the first half despite a streak of nine consecutive misses.
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Alabama: Their depth has been on display so far. The Tide controlled the game despite not getting many points from starters Mark Sears and Noah Clowney or Nick Pringle, the star of the opener against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Alabama faces a San Diego State team making its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2004, which was also the year of the Tide’s only Elite Eight race. The Crimson Tide have never reached the Final Four.