Brandon Miller Scores 24, No. 3 Alabama Races Past Florida 97-69

Florida Alabama Basketball

Alabama forward Brandon Miller watches his shot against Florida during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

With freshman star Brandon Miller leading the way, Alabama is now off to its best Southeastern Conference start in nearly seven decades.

Miller scored 24 points and made 4 of 8 3-pointers to lead No. 3 Alabama to a 97-69 victory over Florida on Wednesday night for the program’s best SEC start since the 1955-56 team went 14-0 in league games.

The Crimson Tide (21-3, 11-0) raced to a 29-point halftime lead against the Gators (13-11, 6-5), who had knocked off then-No. 2 Tennessee a week earlier.

Alabama also matched the 1975-76 team for the program’s best record through 24 games.

“It’s great. They’ve had a lot of really good teams here,” Tide coach Nate Oats said. “I don’t even know who was in the SEC back in 55-56, but it’s a good league now.

“We’re just trying to play good basketball. I think we played pretty well tonight. It’s nice to make some history around here.”

Miller added nine rebounds and three assists for the Tide. Mark Sears made 4 of 6 3s and scored 19 for Alabama, which buried 15 shots from long range. Jahvon Quinerly had 11 points and five assists.

Alabama built a 52-23 halftime lead on a combination of scorching 3-point shooting, and the Gators’ own shooting woes. The Tide made 9 of 17 3s by halftime while Florida missed its five attempts.

Alabama started the rout with a 23-4 run that included Quinerly’s eight points and the team’s four 3s.

Miller hit 3 of 4 3s in the first half, including a pair in the final three minutes.

It was a hot start for a team coming off a more lackluster 79-69 win over LSU.

“We weren’t happy with our game at LSU,” Oats said. “I think guys understood we’ve got to play better. It wasn’t who we were. Two out of our last three games, we haven’t played hard enough, long enough.”

The Gators got as close as 17 in the second half but Miller answered with eight points in less than two minutes: a 3-pointer, a one-handed dunk and a basket and subsequent foul shot.

“Coach called a time out and we just regrouped as a team and got our energy back right together,” Sears said.

Alabama’s Noah Clowney left the court in the middle of the second half and didn’t return. Oats said it was a facial injury, not a concussion and Clowney shouldn’t miss a game.

Alabama nade 15 of 34 3-pointers (44%) against a defense that came in allowing opponents to hit only 29%. Has won its first 11 SEC games for only the second time.

Alabama visits in-state rival Auburn on Saturday. The Tigers have lost four of their last five games.

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