The 3-Pointer: Three takeaways from Alabama’s victory over Maryland
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – With two No. 1 seeds off the board, top seed Alabama rolls to the Sweet 16.
Unlike Kansas and Purdue, the Crimson Tide avoided the excitement against 8th-seeded Maryland, defeating the Terrapins 73-50 and punching their ticket to Louisville.
Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s win.
It’s finally Miller time
Miller’s introduction to March Madness was anything but friendly. Alabama’s all-time top scorer this season struggled to find the bottom of the net as he went scoreless for more than 53 minutes in Birmingham. However, against Maryland, Miller finally got his offense going when a driving layup snatched a 0-for-8 mark off the floor at 6:44 of the first half. After seeing his first shot come off, it gave Miller a boost in confidence as he finished with nine points in the first half.
When Miller finally got the proverbial monkey off his back, all he had to do was dump one from the deep, and he did just that. Within the first two minutes of the second half, Miller dumped a 3-pointer and two possessions later he did it again. The two deep balls gave Alabama a double-digit lead that they didn’t want to give up thanks to their 19 points.
Alabama sticks with appetizers
If there’s one calling card for this year’s Alabama team, it’s depth. The team known for having eight different scorers on offense shortened the bench against Maryland. Typically, a strength for Alabama wasn’t very effective against Maryland, earning just three points off the bench in the first half. Nimari Burnett scored all three points at the free-throw line with less than four minutes remaining in the first half.
Even with Burnett’s three points off the line, the bench went off the field for a combined 0-4 and was up seven on the floor in the first 20 minutes. For comparison, the starting unit during this stretch was a Plus-68. Noah Gurley made the unit’s first basket off the floor at the 8:46 mark of the second half.
Reese’s nasty troubles spur the run in the first half
As Saturday’s matchup began, all eyes were on the battle between 6-foot-9 forward Julian Reese and 7-footer Charles Bediako. Reese, Maryland’s leading rebounder and shot blocker, was hampered by early foul problems on Saturday. Reese picked up his third foul with 8:50 left in the first half and with him on the bench, Alabama went on a 14-3 run to end the first half with five points. During that span, three of Alabama’s five-basket layups were where Maryland’s rim protector was glued to the bench.
With Reese absent, Maryland really struggled to get its offense going as it missed 20 of its 22 shots to finish the half. Alabama dominated the rebound fight with 44 boards to Maryland’s 32. Bediako took full advantage of the undersized Maryland team and hit his third double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.