No. 1 Alabama defeats 16 seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, advances to Round of 32

Mathey Gibson, Staff Reporter

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — On Thursday, No. 1 Alabama defeated the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Islanders 96-75 behind the wings of a blistering offensive showcase. 

Leading the way for the Crimson Tide was junior Mark Sears, who scored 15 points on 4-for-5 shooting, drilling three of his four shots from beyond the arc.  

Sears, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, kept the Islanders guessing with his quickness off the dribble and efficiency, scoring in double figures for the first time since Mar. 1 versus Auburn. 

“We’re going to have him out there,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “We know he can score, other teams know he’s capable of scoring at a high level, teams can’t sag him and he gives us spacing on the floor, so to have him go in and make a lot of shots certainly helps.” 

It was a productive day for freshman Noah Clowney, who poured in 10 points and four rebounds on 3-for-4 shooting from downtown.  

Clowney, a 6-foot-10 forward from Roebuck, South Carolina, scored 10 first-half points, capitalizing on three catch-and-shoot opportunities from Jaden Bradley and Sears, but not before getting into foul trouble with three early calls. 

It was a quiet day for freshman sensation Brandon Miller, who failed to score from the field for the first time in his young career after shooting 0-for-5 from the field.  

Miller, a 6-foot-9 forward from Antioch, Tennessee, was recently recognized as a consensus second-team All-American, becoming only the second player in program history to do so, joining Leon Douglas, who was recognized in 1975.  

Senior Noah Gurley continues to have an impact off the bench in March, scoring eight points on 3-for-4 shooting while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out three assists.  

Gurley, who transferred to Alabama from Furman University, has logged 15 minutes or more in his last four contests for the Crimson Tide after not playing more than 10 minutes in any game during the month of February.  

“His leadership has been great all year,” Oats said. “It’s a big reason why we’re as tight, and chemistry is as good, when guys are pulling for each other as much as they are.”  

Joining Sears with a big day in the backcourt was senior counterpart Jahvon Quinerly, who scored 13 points on 4-for-8 shooting, dishing out an assist while turning the ball over only once.  

Quinerly, a 6-foot-1 guard from Hackensack, New Jersey, continues his ferocious run in the month of March, scoring in double figures for the sixth time in seven games as he approaches the one-year anniversary of tearing his ACL in the Round of 64 versus Notre Dame in 2021-22.  

After not playing in the SEC championship game versus Texas A&M, sophomore guard Nimari Burnett shone versus the Islanders, scoring 11 points on 3-for-8 shooting, drilling three of his six shots from 3-point land. 

“We’ve got a great starting group that can come in and get us an early lead,” Burnett said. “If not, we know we have a great bench that will either push that lead for us or get the lead back. Having great depth on this team makes us one of the best teams in the country, and I think we showed that today.” 

Burnett, a 6-foot-4 guard from Chicago, Illinois, posted double-digit scoring numbers for the first time since tallying 11 points in a 68-59 loss to Tennessee on Feb. 15.  

Guiding the frontcourt for Alabama was junior Nick Pringle, who scored 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting while grabbing a hefty 15 rebounds. 

Pringle, a transfer from Dodge City Community College, sealed the game with a dunk nearing the end of regulation before checking out in the final seconds to a thunderous ovation.  

After taking care of business in the first round, Oats and company will now set their sights on a matchup with Kevin Williard’s eighth-seeded University of Maryland Terrapins on Saturday.  

Questions or comments? Email Blake Byler (Sports Editor) at [email protected]