Birmingham, Ala. – For the first time since the 1986–87 season, Alabama men’s basketball earned an NCAA tournament victory in Birmingham.
Thanks to a barrage of 3-pointers, Alabama was able to scuttle any chances of an upset, defeating Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 96–75.
Here are three takeaways from Alabama’s first-round victory in the NCAA tournament.
first half dominance
Alabama was floored unconscious in the first 20 minutes. The fifth time this season saw Alabama lead by 50 points or more, the Crimson Tide converted more than 50% of their shots from the field, including 59% from behind the 3-point line.
The Crimson Tide had eight different scorers, with Noah Clooney and Mark Sears finding their way to the scoresheet in double digits in the first frame. For Sears, it was the proverbial breath of fresh air after scoring just a combined 15 points during the SEC Championship Tournament.
Sears tallied 15 points by the 12-minute mark of the second half as he recovered to mark 3-for-4 from deep. During his brief time in Nashville, Sears went cold 3-for-19 from behind the 3-point line, but got into his rhythm on Thursday.
Clown’s big start, Pringle’s big end
After failing to score 10 points or more against Texas A&M on Sunday, Alabama freshman Noah Clowney sought revenge against his satellite school. On Thursday, the Clowns got into rhythm early, converting three of their first four shots from the floor. All four of those shots were from behind the arc that continued a hot shooting streak for the 6-foot-10 forward.
In his last three games, Clowney has shot 50% or better from behind the arc. In his last five starts, he went 9-for-20, a complete turnaround from a 0-for-20 stretch two months earlier.
However, early foul trouble stifled the freshman’s opportunity to have a really big day. Clowney committed three fouls in the first half, forcing Oates to pull him from the floor with five minutes remaining until halftime. The freshman got a chance to start the second half, but that too was short-lived, picking up his fourth foul with 19:31 left in regulation.
With a hole in the Alabama front court, Oates turned to Nick Pringle to provide the spark, and the South Carolina native delivered.
In 19 minutes of playing time, Pringle achieved his second double-double of the season, scoring a team-high 19 points and adding a team-high 13 rebounds.
Miller goes missing on offense
Miller’s debut in the Big Dance was one he would like to forget. After being named SEC Tournament MVP, Miller could not go against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. For the first time this season, the freshman phenom was held to a scoreless 0-for-5 from the floor but added five rebounds in the win.
It is also the second point this season Miller was held scoreless in the opening frame. It was his first goose egg since his 0-for-4 start against Houston on Dec. 10, which as of Thursday was his last season-low of eight points.