Alabama Wins SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament with 82-63 Victory over Texas A&M

Sec Alabama Texas A M Basketball

Alabama players pose after an NCAA college basketball game against Texas A&M in the finals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, Sunday, March 12, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. Alabama won 82-63. (AP Photo/John Amis)

By TERESA M. WALKER AP Sports Writer

Alabama freshman Brandon Miller scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as fourth-ranked Alabama smothered No. 18 Texas A&M 82-63 on Sunday for the Crimson Tide’s second SEC Tournament championship in three seasons. The tournament was played in Miller’s hometown of Nashville.

“It means a lot just to have my family come just five minutes down the road to watch me play,” Miller said. “The fun part is just really going out and getting a win with my guys in the SEC championship.”

It was the Crimson Tide’s second SEC double dip in three seasons, having picked up their regular-season trophy Friday. The Tide (29-5) extended the program record for wins while adding its eighth tournament title in its 15th appearance; both second only to Kentucky in the SEC.

Alabama coach Nate Oats said sweeping the SEC twice in three years with totally different teams speaks to the talent they’ve recruited.

“We’re fortunate to have the best player on the floor this year every time we walked out with Brandon,” Oats said of the AP All-SEC player and newcomer of the year. He was named tournament MVP.

Miller was greeted by a roaring crowd that was filled with Alabama fans during pre-game introductions, then posted his ninth double-double of the season.

“He’s a mismatch nightmare,” Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams said of Miller. “Who’s going to guard him? He can pass, dribble and shoot. He’s a position-less player that has size. He has that same versatility on that other end.”

Miller has been a driving force for Alabama all season as it chases a top seeding in the NCAA Tournament. But the team also is dealing with the fallout of former Tide player Darius Miles and another man being indicted on capital murder charges for the January shooting death of 23-year-old Jamea Harris.

In February, an investigator testified that Miles texted Miller to bring him his gun. Police also said that Jaden Bradley also was at the scene. Neither Miller nor Bradley have been charged, and both have been playing — Miller, especially.

Oats said the team never loses sight of the tragedy, saying “it’s always there.”

“But today with the team we’re going to celebrate this win without losing sight of that. Moving forward, we’re going to try to keep the team focused on the task at hand, just like we have, without ever losing sight of the fact it’s an unbelievably sad situation.”

Jahvon Quinerly, who was 0-of-9 shooting with one point in the semifinal, scored 13 of his 22 points in the first half. Charles Bediako had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Tide.

Alabama snapped a five-game skid to Texas A&M, which included a 67-61 loss in College Station on March 4 in the regular season.

“Just a different atmosphere, totally different game for a championship,” Taylor said of the difference between the two games.

Mark Sears opened with a 3-pointer, and Alabama never trailed, making four of its first six 3s. The Tide led by as many as 33-17 with 4:10 left on a pair of free throws by Miller and 34-23 at halftime.

The Aggies could not knock down shots, shooting a season-low 29.7% (19-of-64) from the floor, and never got closer than nine in the second half.

The Tide padded their lead to as much as 25 before Oats pulled his starters.

Oats improved to 6-1 in the SEC Tournament, and his winning percentage is second since 1979 only to Rick Pitino who went 17-1 for a 94.4% mark at Kentucky. The Tide also improved to 9-0 in Nashville under Oats, including 6-0 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena where the SEC Tournament is scheduled to be held through 2030 with an option to extend to 2035.

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