Alabama Basketball takes down Michigan State in PKI

Alabama Crimson Tide forward Brandon Miller (24) - Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama Crimson Tide forward Brandon Miller (24) - Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama basketball took care of business in the first round of the Phil Knight Invitational, beating the 12th-ranked Michigan State Spartans by a score of 81-70. Alabama was outrebounded for the first time this season (42-40), but played stingy defense and was very efficient on offense.

The Crimson Tide moved the ball well, notching 19 assists on 28 made baskets en route to shooting 44 percent from the field. Alabama hit eight three-pointers, an area in which they have been wildly inconsistent at times. Defensively, the Tide held Michigan State to 38.7 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from the three-point line.

Tom Izzo had to go deeper into his bench as the Spartans were missing starting forward Malik Hall and sixth man Jaden Akins. Alabama was missing Dom Welch and Darius Miles, but continued to work point guard Jahvon Quinerly into the rotation.

Freshman Brandon Miller was a superstar for the Crimson Tide, and was clearly the best player on the court on the biggest stage of his young collegiate career. His deep three at the end of the first half just beat the buzzer, giving Alabama a five-point lead and all the momentum. The Tide would quickly push that lead to double-digits in the second half, staying in control the rest of the way. At one point, Bama took a commanding 18-point lead.

Brandon Miller finished with 24 points and nine rebounds in the game to lead four Alabama players in double-figures. Miller went 4-7 from three-point range, and also blocked two shots. Fellow freshman Noah Clowney scored 10 points, grabbed six rebounds, and got three steals.

Graduate student Noah Gurley contributed 12 points off the bench, and Quinerly added 10 points. Ohio transfer Mark Sears continued to start at point guard. Coming off an 18-point outing against Jacksonville State, Sears shot the ball very poorly. He went 2-10 from the field and 0-4 from the three-point line, totaling just seven points. Still, he found other ways to impact the game, recording five rebounds and a team-high five assists with zero turnovers.

Center Charles Bediako was effective early in pick-and-roll action. He finished with eight points, four rebounds, and two blocks. Wing Nimari Burnett also scored eight points, hitting both of his three-point attempts. Burnett, a former Texas Tech transfer, missed all of last season with an injury. Any extra offense he can provide is a huge benefit for Nate Oats’ squad.

Next. Could be a rough week on the Plains. dark

Alabama basketball will take on the 20th-ranked UCONN Huskies in the event’s semifinal round on Friday.