Only one no. 16 seed has ever won an NCAA Tournament game in the history of the Big Dance, and Alabama Basketball was not going to allow Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to become the second.
Even on an off day from superstar Brandon Miller, who was held scoreless in the contest, Corpus Christi was no match for the top-overall seed. The Crimson Tide jumped out to a 20-point halftime lead thanks to a barrage of three-point shots. Alabama went 10-17 (58.3 percent) from the perimeter in the first half before cooling off a little in the second. The Tide also dominated on the interior en route to a 96-75 victory.
Nick Pringle came off the bench with great energy, ultimately leading Alabama with 19 points and 15 rebounds. This outing matched Pringle’s career-high, and represented his second big game in less than a month. Pringle posted a similar double-double stat line at home against Georgia in February. The reserve big continues to shoot over 80 percent from the field, even as his opportunities have increased in the latter half of the season.
Starting center Charles Bediako was no slouch either, contributing nine points, eight rebounds, and four blocks. Freshman forward Noah Clowney battled foul trouble and played limited minutes, but still managed to score 10 points.
Mark Sears (15 points), Jahvon Quinerly (13 points), and Nimari Burnett (11 points) all gave Bama solid backcourt scoring. Meanwhile, freshman guard Jaden Bradley went scoreless and continued to struggle from the field. Bradley found other ways to impact the game, recording a game-high six assists.
Even with the virtual absence of Brandon Miller, Alabama Basketball was able to get hot from three in its first round game. This is perhaps the worst-case scenario for any of the Tide’s future opponents in this tournament.
Noah Clowney, a streaky three-point shooter that has had a couple of slumps this year, went 3-4 from downtown. Mark Sears, who has been ice-cold as of late, also went 3-4. Wing Nimari Burnett went 3-6 from the outside. Senior forward Noah Gurley hit both of his three-point tries. Although wings Rylan Griffen and Dom Welch did not shoot well off the bench, they were able to hit one triple apiece.
In total, the Crimson Tide hit 15 treys, despite getting a 1-7 combined effort from Brandon Miller and Jahvon Quinerly. This team has the ability to go nuclear from the three-point line, and guys like Clowney, Sears, and Burnett finding their range is a really good sign going forward.
Alabama Basketball faces 8-seed Maryland in the Round of 32 on Saturday. If the Tide continues to light it up from deep, the Terrapins will have a hard time keeping pace.