Alabama basketball's Brandon Miller shows out in hometown in 78-66 win over Vanderbilt
NASHVILLE ― After an unprecedented and trying couple of days, Alabama played a basketball game. The Crimson Tide emerged with a 78-66 victory over Vanderbilt on Tuesday at at Memorial Gymnasium.
Brandon Miller, playing in his hometown, led all scorers with 30 points. He had a double-double with 10 rebounds.
The game was the first for the Crimson Tide since the arrest of Darius Miles, who was charged Sunday with capital murder. No longer a member of the team according to UA, Miles provided the firearm used in a fatal shooting of Jamea Jonae Harris, 23, in Tuscaloosa near The Strip early Sunday, court documents revealed. Michael Lynn Davis, who is not affiliated with UA, was also arrested and charged with capital murder. Investigators believe Davis fired the shot that killed Harris.
Here are observations and takeaways from the game between No. 4 Alabama (16-2, 6-0 SEC) and Vanderbilt (9-9, 2-3).
Brandon Miller shines for hometown crowd
Miller had his first chance to play a college game for fans from his hometown, and he made the most of it. Quickly.
Miller scored Alabama’s second bucket of the game on a transition dunk.
Shortly after, Miller knocked down a triple to give Alabama a fast 9-3 lead with 16:32 remaining in the first half.
By halftime, Miller had 12 points and had sunk 5 of 8 field goal attempts. He had two triples as part of those 12 points. He also had seven boards, six of which were on the defense end. Miller led the Crimson Tide in points and rebounds before the break.
His efforts helped Alabama hold a 10-point lead at halftime.
Miller wasn't done yet, either. He hit another triple not even two minutes into the second half.
He also hit clutch free throws down the stretch. He was 6-for-7 from the free-throw line.
Alabama has to hang on late, but free-throw shooting preserves victory
The Crimson Tide jumped out to a pretty quick lead in the second half, going up by 23 at one point in the second half.
But Vanderbilt wasn't going to call it a game.
Thanks to some late free throws and a couple of timely shots, the Commodores drew within 68-62 with 43 seconds left. Jordan Wright made the bucket to bring Vanderbilt close to the Crimson Tide.
Then the Commodores had to start fouling, and Alabama made the most of the opportunity.
Miller knocked down the first two free throws. Then, a few seconds later, Noah Gurley hit both of his free throws to give Alabama a 10-point lead back with 26 seconds left. Miller hit a few more after that too, preserving the victory.
Alabama will face Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, on Saturday (5 p.m., SEC Network). The Crimson Tide won't return to Coleman Coliseum until it faces Mississippi State for the second time this season on Jan. 25.
Nick Kelly covers Alabama football and men's basketball for The Tuscaloosa News/USA TODAY Network. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly.