After beating lesser competitors to start out the season, Alabama basketball was simply as huge in opposition to one of many Large Ten bullies on Thursday evening. Going through his first actual check of the 12 months, No. 18 Crimson Tide edged No. 12 Michigan State, 81-70, to open play within the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Oregon.

    “It is a high quality win,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats mentioned. “We’re moving into the best route. Defensively, we preached to our guys that we have now to maintain, and the offense will maintain itself. We have solely had 10 turnovers, which is nice for us. We turned the ball a bit an excessive amount of. We took care of the ball and made free throws within the stretch, we stopped after we wanted to. Large win for us.

    The win retains Alabama within the winner’s bracket the place they may face No. 20 UConn on Friday at 8:30 p.m. CT. A win in that recreation would see the Crimson Tide play for the match championship in opposition to No. 1 North Carolina or Iowa State on Sunday.

    Brandon Miller led the Crimson Tide once more Thursday evening, recording 24 factors and 9 rebounds whereas capturing 8 of 19, together with 4 of seven from deep. It was the rookie’s third 20-point efficiency in 5 video games this season.

    With the win, Alabama goes 5-0 for the primary time because the 2017-18 season. Listed below are three takeaways from the sport.

    Extra time Miller

    Alabama followers, take pleasure in Brandon Miller whilst you have him. The five-star freshman will not be lengthy for this degree. Acting on the most important stage of his first faculty profession, Miller appeared misplaced on Thursday evening — not as a result of he could not sustain with the Energy 5 competitors, however slightly as a result of his polished strategy already appears prepared for the NBA.

    Miller was a person among the many boys, pacing an Alabama staff that began the sport chilly from the ground. The freshman ahead recorded 17 and 5 rebounds within the first half, hitting a buzzer-beating 3 to ship the Crimson Tide into the break with a 42-37 lead.

    After getting off to a quick begin, Alabama’s offense crumbled halfway via the primary half, permitting Michigan State to steer by as a lot as 7 factors. With the Crimson Tide trailing 30-25 on the finish of the half, Miller took issues into his personal fingers, delivering a 6-0 solo run by making a shot and a free throw earlier than sinking a 3 to provide Alabama the lead.

    After his 3 on the halftime buzzer, Miller drained one other deep shot to provide Alabama a 50-41 lead with 17:22 remaining. The Crimson Tide did not look again from there, crusing to straightforward victory.

    Alabama proves toughness at all-time low

    Earlier than Thursday evening’s recreation, Nate Oats overtly questioned whether or not his staff would be capable to keep their early-season toughness in opposition to a Michigan State staff recognized for his or her physicality. Alabama entered the sport main the nation in rebounds per recreation (56.0), offensive rebounds per recreation (19.5), and rebound margin (24.5). Nevertheless, Crimson Tide’s earlier opponents weren’t fairly as much as par with Tom Izzo’s typical Spartans groups.

    It seems Alabama has the muscle to bang the large boys across the nation, too. The Crimson Tide have been handed 42-40 however edged the Spartans 38-30 within the paint.

    Alabama’s means to attain close to the sting stored them within the recreation early. Ten of Crimson Tide’s first 11 discipline objectives got here on both dunks or layups, which helped offset a 1-of-8 begin from past the arc.

    Some nice performances off the bench

    Alabama’s depth was all the time going to be key in a match that featured three high quality matchups in 4 video games. On Thursday evening, the Crimson Tide benefited from their deep roster as their bench outscored Michigan State 24-13.

    Noah Gurley scored a season-high 12 factors with 4 rebounds in 25 minutes. In the meantime, Jahvon Quinerly recorded his first double-digit recreation since coming back from a torn ACL, scoring 10 factors in 18 minutes.

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