Wipe out, Tide rip SLC champ Islanders

Published 9:00 am Friday, March 17, 2023

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama buried Texas A&M-Corpus Christi under an early 3-point onslaught, launching the NCAA Tournament’s top seed to a 96-75 first-round romp on Thursday even with star freshman Brandon Miller going scoreless.

The Crimson Tide (30-5) set aside their off-court distractions and buried 10 first-half 3’s in a predictably easy win over the 16th-seeded Islanders (24-11) of the Southland Conference, less than an hour from campus.

Miller, the 6-foot-9 all-American who has been beset by questions about his presence at the scene of a fatal shooting, sat out the final 14 minutes and missed all five field goal attempts while dealing with a groin injury. His previous low was eight points against Houston on Dec. 10.

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“We’re making shots at a pretty high level,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “It’s nice to put up 96 without Brandon scoring any of them. He’s been nursing a groin injury. We want to play him limited minutes and were able to keep him under 20.”

“It doesn’t really matter how much I score. I think our whole team are just winners,” Miller said. “The final score at the end of the game, that’s what we care about.”

Miller hasn’t been accused of any crime in the shooting, which led to capital murder charges against then-teammate Darius Miles and another man.

Nick Pringle scored 17 and had a season-high 13 rebounds. Mark Sears made three 3’s in a 58-second span of the first half and scored 15 points. Jahvon Quinerly scored 13 and Nimari Burnett had 11.

Noah Clowney scored all 10 of his points in the first 5-plus minutes, including three 3’s.

Trevian Tennyson led the Islanders with 20 points. Isaach Mushula scored 16 and Owen Dease 14. The Islanders have never beaten a ranked team.

Islanders head Steve Lutz has lifted the Islanders to two consecutive NCAA Tournaments since taking over a team that had gone 5-19 the year before his arrival.

The Islanders were without Terrion Murdix (left knee injury), the SLC Defensive Player of the Year.

“They should be very, very proud of themselves,” Lutz said.

His team did muster an 8-0 flurry early in the second half to cut the deficit to 13 points. But the momentum didn’t last.

“They’re a great team. They answered back,” Tennyson said. “They have a chance to win the national title.”