No. 4 Alabama finishes off SEC title double dip at tourney
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Brandon Miller scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as fourth-ranked Alabama smothered No. 18 Texas A&M 82-63 on Sunday for the Crimson Tide’s second Southeastern Conference Tournament championship in three seasons.
The Crimson Tide also capped their second SEC double dip in three seasons after picking up their regular-season trophy before Friday’s quarterfinals. The Tide (29-5) extended the program record for wins while adding its eighth tournament title in its 15th appearance; both are second only to Kentucky in the SEC.
Miller, the tournament MVP and AP All-SEC player and newcomer of the year, posted his ninth double-double of the season. Jahvon Quinerly, who was 0-of-9 shooting with one point in the semifinal, made his first three 3s and scored 13 of his 22 points in the first half. Charles Bediako had 12 points and 13 rebounds.
The second-seeded Aggies (25-9) dropped to 0-3 in the tournament finale, losing for a second straight year. Dexter Dennis led Texas A&M with 14 points, Wade Taylor IV had 13 and Tyrece Radford 12.
Alabama snapped a five-game skid to Texas A&M, which included a 67-61 loss in College Station on March 4 in the regular season.
Mark Sears opened with a 3-pointer, and Alabama never trailed, making four of its first six 3s. The Tide led by as many as 33-17 with 4:10 left on a pair of free throws by Miller and 34-23 at halftime.
The Aggies could not knock down shots, shooting a season-low 29.7% (19-of-64) from the floor, and never got closer than nine in the second half.
The Tide padded their lead to as much as 25 before coach Nate Oats pulled his starters.
Alabama is chasing a top seeding in the NCAA Tournament despite a season that has been challenging. Former Tide player Darius Miles and another man were indicted earlier this week on capital murder charges for the January shooting death of 23-year-old Jamea Harris.
In February, an investigator testified that Miles texted Miller to bring him his gun. Police also said that Jaden Bradley also was at the scene. Neither Miller nor Bradley have been charged, and both have been playing – Miller, especially.
Texas A&M: The best the Aggies could do in the first half was force a shot clock violation with 1:37 left. The SEC leader in free throws attempted – and among only three teams nationally with more than 800 free throws attempted this season- stayed close at the line, making 10 of 12 in the first half.
Alabama: Oats improved to 6-1 in the SEC Tournament, and his winning percentage is second since 1979 only to Rick Pitino who went 17-1 for a 94.4% mark at Kentucky. … The Tide also improved to 9-0 in Nashville under Oats, including 6-0 at Bridgestone Arena where the SEC Tournament is scheduled to be held through 2030 with an option to extend to 2035.
Texas A&M: Now turns its attention to what should be coach Buzz Williams’ first NCAA Tournament berth after the Aggies were snubbed last year.
Alabama: Polished off its case for the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament after No. 3 Kansas lost in the Big 12 Tournament title game.
No. 4 Alabama finishes off SEC title double dip at tourney originally appeared on NBCSports.com