Brandon Miller scoreless, but Alabama basketball routs Texas A&M-Corpus Christi anyway
BIRMINGHAM — A No. 1 seed beating a No. 16 seed is as sure of an outcome as you will find in the NCAA Tournament, but that didn't mean Alabama basketball could afford not to show up Thursday.
Virginia provided that reminder in 2018.
So, the Crimson Tide taking care of business against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi wasn't surprising but still a necessary first step in March Madness.
Alabama started strong, and with reserves playing much of the second half defeated the Islanders 96-71 at Legacy Arena. The Crimson Tide will face No. 8 seed Maryland on Saturday back at Legacy Arena with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.
Here are observations and takeaways from the game between No. 1 seed Alabama (30-5) and No. 16 seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (24-11).
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Despite Alabama holding a 20-point halftime lead, Brandon Miller hadn't logged a single point. Over 13:16, Miller had gone 0-for-3.
By the end of the game, Miller finished 0-for-5 and scoreless for the first time this season over 19 minutes of play. His previous low was eight points against Houston.
The Islanders limited him, as did some foul trouble. Fine, Alabama said. Others can and will score.
Reserve players such as Dom Welch and Nimari Burnett, who didn't play in the SEC Tournament title game, helped in the scoring efforts with triples early.
Nick Pringle took over in the second half. He scored all of his points after the break with 19 and a double-double.
Mark Sears gets back on track
Sears hadn't been shooting well recently.
Alabama's No. 2 scorer during the season behind Brandon Miller, Sears seldom got shots to fall at the SEC Tournament in Nashville. In the past four games, including the regular-season finale against Texas A&M, Sears had been 4 of 27 from beyond the arc.
He appears to have left those struggles behind him. Sears started the NCAA Tournament the right way. He hit three triples on three straight possessions. Sears had a team-high 13 points before the break to help Alabama grab a 54-34 lead.
Sears finished 4 of 5 with 15 points and three assists.
Noah Clowney excellent ... when he played
Clowney didn't get to play much against the Islanders. He had a propensity for picking up fouls.
He tallied his fourth not even a minute into the second half.
If he had been in the game more, Alabama would have probably won by more. Clowney was clearly ready to go, hitting two triples in the first two minutes and was 3 of 4 from deep at halftime.
If he can stay out of foul trouble, Clowney could have a big NCAA Tournament.