Brandon Miller got hot, and so did Alabama, which averted the fate of two other top NCAA Tournament seed and trailed Maryland 73–51 in the second half on Saturday night.
Crimson Tide (31-5) Reached their second Sweet 16 in the last three tournaments and ninth overall. Alabama will face fifth-seeded San Diego State in the South Region semifinals on Friday in Louisville, Kentucky.
Before the game even dropped the two top seeds, Purdue and defending national champion Kansas, had gone down, and No. 1 seed Houston trailed tide rival Auburn by 10 points before halftime at Legacy Arena.
Alabama and Miller got off to a slow start, but the All-America freshman and top NBA prospect finished with 19 points after going goalless in the first round game. Miller is battling a groin injury and has missed his first nine shots of the tournament.
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Jahvon Quinerly scored 22 points in a second-round loss to Notre Dame on the one-year anniversary of his left knee injury that limited him earlier this season. Quinerly made 4 of 6 3-pointers.
Charles Bediaco had 10 points and 10 rebounds. The friendly crowd came to the bench with Alabama’s opening few minutes to chants of “Sweet 16”.
Julian Reese had 14 points for Maryland (22-13) before fouling out. Jamir Young scored 12 runs.
Alabama, the top overall seed, faced little play, unlike the other No. 1s.
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No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson defeated top-seeded Purdue 63-58 on Friday. Then No. 8 Arkansas beat the Jayhawks 72–71 on Saturday. Houston eventually drifted away from Auburn as the Tide waited for their opportunity.
Aside from the 28–23 deficit, the first half was more to Maryland’s liking, coming to a team’s only 63 points a game.
Maryland: 2002 National Champion Terps They failed to make their 15th trip to the Sweet 16 in coach Kevin Willard’s first season. They also lost to Alabama in the second round two years earlier under former coach Mark Turgeon. Maryland’s defense was strong enough that it held the lead through the first half, despite nine straight mistakes.
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Alabama: Its depth has been coming to the fore till now. The Tide controlled the game, despite Mark Sears, the star of the opening game against Texas A&M–Corpus Christi, and no scoring from Noah Cloney or Nick Pringle.
Alabama faces a San Diego State team making its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2004, which was also the year of the Tide’s only Elite Eight run. The Crimson Tide have never reached the Final Four.