Miller shines, No. 18 Alabama knocks off No. 12 Michigan State


Courtesy of UA Athletics

Alabama guard Brandon Miller (24) drives past a defender in the Crimson Tide’s 81-70 win over the No. 12 Michigan State Spartans on Nov. 24 at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore.

Mathey Gibson, Staff Reporter

Every so often, a player comes along that captures the audience of college basketball fans nationally. A special talent that NBA scouts flock to see, and one that transcends the game in which he plays. 

In 2022, that someone might just be Brandon Miller.  

On Thursday night, No. 18 Alabama defeated the No. 12 Michigan State University Spartans, 81-70, behind a 24-point (8-for-19 FG, 4-for-7 3PT), nine-rebound performance from the star freshman. 

Miller, a highly-touted five-star and McDonald’s All-American before arriving on campus, continues his early onslaught — averaging 21 points per game over his first five contests, a Crimson Tide freshman mark only matched by Collin Sexton in 2017-18 (25.2 ppg).  

“He’s huge. He’s talented. He can make shots,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “The three at the end of the half obviously gave us a big momentum play going into the half. I thought he made some tough shots early. He’s the only guy making threes. If you look at it, we made eight threes on the night — he had four of them. … We usually take a lot of threes. He was the only one able to get them off and make them tonight, so that was big.” 

Miller wasn’t the only freshman who impressed against Tom Izzo’s squad, though. 

Forward Noah Clowney scored 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting from the field — hitting a three and sinking 3-for-5 shots from the line. The Roebuck, South Carolina, native impressed defensively — tallying three steals and a block in 25 minutes.  

It wasn’t the prettiest performance for Mark Sears, scoring seven points on 2-for-10 shooting from the field and 0-for-4 from deep. The in-state point guard was productive nonetheless, dishing out five assists and grabbing five boards.  

For Jahvon Quinerly, it was business as usual — scoring 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting from the field and 1-for-3 from deep. The pride of Hackensack, New Jersey, looks every bit of himself, keeping defenses off balance with his quickness, vision and shooting ability. 

“We were very level-headed tonight,” Quinerly said. “I just feel like we didn’t get rattled at all when they went on runs. That just goes to show what we talk about in practice — I just feel like our guys are locked in.” 

For the first time all season, Alabama found itself trailing in the rebound department — grabbing 40 boards to Michigan State’s 42. In the end, that wasn’t enough for the Spartans, who couldn’t contain the likes of Clowney, Noah Gurley and Charles Bediako on the glass down the stretch — getting outrebounded by the Crimson Tide 24-23 in the second half.  

“We would’ve liked to have outrebounded them,” Oats said. “We were down two on the glass, so our rebounding margin was not positive like it had been every game up until this point, but I thought we made enough plays. … I thought our guys played tough. They handled Michigan State’s physicality.”  

Alabama’s victory over the Spartans sparked a four-game first-round losing streak in multiple-team events and gave the Crimson Tide its first top-25 win since defeating No. 4 Baylor on Jan. 29. Now, the Crimson Tide will advance to the semifinals to play the No. 20 University of Connecticut Huskies for a spot in the Phil Knight Invitational championship game.  

Tipoff from Portland, Oregon, for No. 18 Alabama and No. 20 UConn at the Moda Center is set for Friday, Nov. 25, at 8:30 p.m. CT on ESPN. 

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]