Nick Pringle posted a double-double Thursday as top-seeded Alabama overcame a poor performance from Brandon Miller to score a 96-75 victory over 16th-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in Birmingham, Ala., in a first-round matchup in the NCAA Tournament’s South Region.
Pringle totaled 19 points and 15 rebounds on 8-of-10 shooting in just 21 minutes of action for the Crimson Tide (30-5), who will face eighth-seeded Maryland in the second round on Saturday. Mark Sears added 15 points and Jahvon Quinerly went for 13.
Miller, the Southeastern Conference Player and Freshman of the Year, went scoreless for the first time this season.
He is being flanked by armed security during the NCAA Tournament due to “threats” received, Alabama coach Nate Oats said Wednesday. Miller became the focus of heightened scrutiny and media attention when police revealed details of their murder investigation involving former Alabama player Darius Miles and another man, who are charged in the fatal shooting on Jan. 15. Investigators testified it was Miller who delivered Miles’ gun to him, leading to the homicide.
Although Miller insisted Wednesday that the enhanced security was no distraction for him, on the court Thursday he missed all five of his shot attempts in his 19 minutes of action. In his 34 previous games this season, he has averaged 19.6 points and had been held under double figures only once (eight points in a victory over Houston on Dec. 10).
Oats also revealed Miller was playing through an injury.
“It was nice to be able to put up 96 without Brandon scoring a point. He’s got a groin injury that he’s been nursing since Sunday in the SEC Tournament,” Oats said. “We were trying to play him limited minutes.”
Trevian Tennyson scored a game-high 20 points Thursday for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (24-11), which shot just 34.7 percent (26 of 75) from the floor. Isaac Mushila contributed 16 points and 15 rebounds, while Owen Dease had 14 points.
The Crimson Tide came roaring out of the gate, opening the game on a 9-0 run that included a pair of 3-pointers from Noah Clowney.
After the Islanders pulled within three, Alabama pushed its lead back to nine by the 12:40 mark of the first half.
Corpus Christi once again made a push, getting a pair of free throws from Mushila and a trey from Dease to cut the lead to four before the Tide went on the game-changing run heading into intermission.
Alabama outscored the Islanders 35-19 over the final 11:32 of the first half to go into the break with a 20-point lead.
Sears led all first-half scorers with 13 points for Alabama, which sank 10 of 17 3-point attempts through the first 20 minutes of action. Mushila and Dease had nine points apiece for the Islanders.
Early in the second half, Tennyson went on a personal 8-0 run for Corpus Christi to trim the deficit to 13. But the Tide bit back with seven unanswered points in a 52-second span to reestablish a 20-point advantage and Alabama cruised from there.
The Islanders never got closer than 16 in the final 16 minutes of action, with Alabama’s largest lead 24 points.
–Field Level Media