Brandon Miller’s double-double leads No. 4 Alabama in 72-61 win over No. 25 Missouri
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Freshman Brandon Miller scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as fourth-ranked Alabama advanced to the Southeastern Conference Tournament championship by beating No. 25 Missouri 72-61 on Saturday.
Alabama (28-5) will play in its 15th tournament championship game against either No. 18 Texas &AM or Vanderbilt on Sunday, looking for an eighth title to add to its regular-season trophy. Noah Clowney added 19 points for Alabama, and Charles Bediako had 10.
No. 25 Missouri (24-9) missed a chance to play in its first SEC Tournament championship since joining the league in 2012 and snapped a five-game winning streak that tied its longest in this league.
D’Moi Hodge led the Tigers with 21 points. DeAndre Gholston added 17 and Nick Carter had 10. Leading scorer Kobe Brown, who had been averaging 16.2 points, was held to six.
The Tigers scored the first six points of the second half for their biggest lead at 35-31. Then Alabama took control with a 16-3 run that Miller, the AP All-SEC player of the year and newcomer of the year, started with a steal for a fast-break layup.
Clowney’s three-point play put Alabama ahead to stay at 40-39 before Miller knocked down back-to-back 3s, the first giving him the Tide’s freshman scoring record. Gurley added a 3, then Bediako’s layup with 8:42 left matched Alabama’s biggest lead of the game at 52-42.
Alabama led 31-29 at halftime after Missouri finished the half on a 13-5 run. Hodge, a senior guard, capped the spurt with an amazing 3-pointer off a cross-court inbound pass from Sean East II, turning in mid-air and knocking down the shot over Clowney’s hand with 1.8 seconds left.
Former Alabama 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.
Miller and Jaden Bradley have continued playing as Alabama chases a top seeding in the NCAA Tournament, despite an investigator’s testimony in February that Miles texted Miller to bring him his gun and police saying Bradley also was at the scene. Neither Miller nor Bradley have been charged.
Missouri: Came in as the nation’s top team in turnover margin, and the Tigers had a big edge in that against Alabama with only five turnovers compared to 17. Missouri turned that into an 18-4 scoring edge with the best play coming when Brown went to the ground for a steal he fed to Hodge for a dunk with 1:14 left in the first half.
Alabama: Easily dominated on the boards (44-28), but couldn’t convert on the extra chances. The Tide was outscored 8-9 by Missouri on second-chance points.
Missouri: Awaits its NCAA Tournament seeding Sunday, still looking for its first league title since winning the Big 12 in 2012 before moving to the SEC.
Alabama: Will try to finish off another SEC double-dip Sunday in the tourney title game. The Tide won their seventh tournament championship in 2021 to go with their regular-season title the last time this event was played in Nashville.
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