Miller, Sears lead No. 7 Alabama past Mississippi, 84-62
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Brandon Miller caught an inbounds pass near midcourt with the shot clock winding down and heaved a 3-pointer.
Alabama’s freshman star scored 17 points, including that long 3 with less than four minutes left, and Mark Sears had 16 to lead the seventh-ranked Crimson Tide to an 84-62 victory over Mississippi on Tuesday night.
The Tide (12-2, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) had seen its lead trimmed to 15 when Miller fired away to end any sliver of doubt about the outcome.
“He had to pull up at the logo,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “We had no time left on the shot clock. I’d like to say we drew up the play planning on Brandon making a 45-footer. But we kind of tried to run something a little different.”
Alabama raced to a 21-point halftime lead, shot 9 of 20 on 3-pointers and placed five scorers in double figures. The Rebels (8-5, 0-2) finished just 2 of 24 on 3s (8.3%) in their third straight loss.
“It’s a pretty simple game of basketball,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. “We got just as good shots as Alabama did. (It was) our inability to make them.”
Jaden Bradley added 14 points for Alabama, hitting 10 of 12 free throws and scoring 11 in the second half. Jahvon Quinerly had 11 points while Noah Clowney scored 10 to go with eight rebounds.
The 6-foot-9 Miller, who just won his third SEC freshman of the week honor, wasn’t too carried away by his long heave.
“I warm up shooting deep shots but I don’t think I practice those,” the SEC’s leading scorer said, chuckling. “I think some just fall at times.”
Jaemyn Brakefield led Ole Miss with 14 points. Daeshun Ruffin scored 13 but missed all seven 3-point attempts. Matthew Murrell had nine points on 4-of-13 shooting. The Rebels’ leading scorer was 1 of 11 for five points against Tennessee.
“I thought Matt had some good looks,” Davis said. “He’s got to continue to do what he’s doing. He’s getting a lot of extra shots (in practice).”
Alabama scored the final nine points of the first half for a 44-23 lead. Quinerly capped it with a 3 from the right corner off a pass from Miller, who had scored the previous two baskets on a dunk and layup.
He later fired up the crowd and the team with his long shot after the Tide had seen part of a 27-point lead winnowed away.
“We’ve got to do a better job closing games with the lead,” Oats said. “That’s a good spot to be in, though, where you’ve got to worry about closing games with the lead.”
Mississippi: Lost for the second consecutive game to a team ranked No. 7 in the nation, but this was a lot less competitive than the Tennessee game (63-59). ... Ole Miss made just 24 of 69 shots (35%).
Alabama: Won its sixth straight against the Rebels and third in a row overall since losing to Gonzaga. Committed only seven turnovers.
Alabama also started 2-0 in SEC play last season before losing three straight games. This team didn’t overlook Ole Miss with Kentucky looming.
“We really don’t look at rankings,” Miller said. “I think we just stay together and just play games like this to win. Rankings don’t really matter to us.”
Mississippi visits Mississippi State on Saturday night.
Alabama hosts Kentucky on Saturday.
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