No. 1 seed Alabama beats Maryland 73-51 in drama-free game
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Before Alabama took the court, two No. 1 seeds had fallen and a third had to rally from a double-digit deficit.
By comparison, the Crimson Tide had a drama-free night.
Jahvon Quinerly scored 22 points, Brandon Miller heated up with 19 and top overall seed Alabama brushed aside Maryland 73-51 behind a dominant second half Saturday.
The second-round romp followed a 21-point blowout of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the Tide’s tournament opener.
“I feel like our job’s not done,” Miller said. “We’re here to win a national championship.”
The Crimson Tide (31-5) advanced to their second Sweet 16 in the past three tournaments and ninth overall. Alabama will face fifth-seeded San Diego State in the South Region semifinals Friday in Louisville, Kentucky.
Before the late-night game, Purdue and defending national champion Kansas had lost, and No. 1 seed Houston trailed Tide rival Auburn by 10 points at halftime earlier at Legacy Arena before pulling away.
“Of course, we watched those games and that was crazy,” Quinerly said. “But Coach (Nate Oats) didn’t really address the team.
“We all know anybody can win in March. We just kind of focused on the task at hand.”
Alabama and Miller got off to a slow start, but the All-America freshman and top NBA prospect wound up with a more typical performance after going scoreless in the first-round game. Miller has been nursing a groin injury and missed his first nine shots of the tournament.
“It seems the more he goes, the looser it got,” Oats said. “He didn’t have the same pop. He was 3 of 11 on 2s. A lot of those were at the rim. His finishing has been really good. He definitely wasn’t 100%. He’s a tough kid. He’s playing through some stuff. He doesn’t let people know he’s hurt.”
Quinerly had a big game on the one-year anniversary of his left knee injury early in a second-round loss to Notre Dame, which still limited him early this season. He shot 4 of 6 on 3-pointers.
Maryland coach Kevin Willard had offered the New Jersey native a scholarship while at Seton Hall when Quinerly was just a ninth-grader.
Charles Bediako had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Alabama’s starters hit the bench with a couple of minutes left to chants of “Sweet 16” in the friendly crowd.
“It’s been unbelievable to play in front of our hometown fans to have a chance to go to the Sweet 16,” Oats said.
Julian Reese had 14 points for Maryland (22-13) before fouling out. Jahmir Young scored 12.
Reese scored seven quick points but picked up his second foul three minutes into the game and only played four minutes in the first half, picking up a quick third.
“His first foul was a foul. But the second one was mysterious, and the third one was the game,” Willard said. “You can’t call that second foul in a physical game. It was a horrible call. It changed the game.
“I’ll elaborate as much as you want. Do you want me to get in a little bit of trouble or a lot of trouble? But the second call was a terrible foul call. A horrible call. It changed our whole game plan. We were gonna pound it inside, pound it inside.”
The Tide wound up with a 44-32 rebounding advantage.
Alabama had an easy time in the end, unlike the other No. 1 seeds.
No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson toppled top-seeded Purdue 63-58 on Friday night in only the second such upset. Then No. 8 seed Arkansas beat the Jayhawks 72-71 earlier Saturday. Houston ultimately pulled away from Auburn as the Tide waited for their opportunity.
The first half was more to Maryland’s liking — other than the 28-23 deficit — for a team that came in giving up just 63 points a game.
Maryland: The 2002 national champion Terrapins failed to make their 15th trip to the Sweet 16 in Willard’s first season. They also lost to Alabama in the second round two years ago under former coach Mark Turgeon. Maryland’s defense was on point enough that it kept the lead for much of the first half despite a stretch of nine straight misses.
Alabama: It was the largest win in NCAA Tournament history by a team that shot under 40% overall and under 30% on 3-pointers, according to STATS. … Alabama’s depth has been on display so far. The Tide controlled the game despite not getting much scoring from starters Mark Sears and Noah Clowney or Nick Pringle, the star of the opening game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
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.
“I know San Diego State’s defense is elite,” Oats said.
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