Miller leads No. 18 Alabama past No. 12 Michigan State 81-70

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Freshman Brandon Miller carried Alabama through the first 20 minutes, topping his big half with a 30-foot punch at the buzzer.

Miller got some help in the second half and the Crimson Tide grabbed an impressive early win of the season.

Miller scored 17 of his 24 first-half points and No. 18 Alabama pulled away to beat No. 12 Michigan State 81-70 Thursday night in the opening…

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Freshman Brandon Miller carried Alabama through the first 20 minutes, topping his big half with a 30-foot punch at the buzzer.

Miller got some help in the second half and the Crimson Tide grabbed an impressive early win of the season.

Miller scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half and No. 18 Alabama pulled away to beat No. 12 Michigan State 81-70 Thursday night in the opening round of the Phil Knight Invitational.

After a rather loose schedule in the first few weeks, Alabama (5-0) passed its first test of the season against the under-manned Spartans (3-2).

“All in all he made a pretty good game. He has to play well so we can do our best,” said Alabama coach Nate Oats.

Miller, the country’s top freshman at more than 20 points per game, was great in the first 20 minutes before receiving assists on goal in the second half. He ended his big first half with a 30-foot shot at the buzzer to give the Crimson Tide a 42-37 lead at the break.

Noah Gurley added 12 points, and Noah Clowney and Jahvon Quinerly both finished with 10 points.

“I definitely thought the 3 I hit was a boost of energy for me and the team,” Miller said. “We could have started better but things happen. I felt like that was a game changer.”

Tyson Walker led Michigan State with 21 points and AJ Hoggard added 18. Leader Joey Hauser had several serious falls on the court and was just one of six shooters. He finished with nine points.

Michigan State also played without forward Malik Hall after the school announced he would be sidelined for about three weeks due to a stress reaction in his left foot. The Spartans were also without guard Jaden Akins with an ankle injury.

Hall averaged 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in four games this season. playing almost 32 minutes per game.

“I’m disappointed to have lost the first game of a tournament. But given the circumstances that these guys find out a day or two ago, you might not have a guy that plays the best and definitely one that would match Miller,” Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo said.

Alabama was slowly building its halftime lead, but it was a three-minute sequence that the tide finally built a cushion. Quinerly hit a 3-pointer from the wing to increase Alabama’s lead to 11. Jaden Bradley followed, intercepting a pass in midfield, and his layup gave the Tide a 62-49 lead with 11:50 to go.

After a time out, Quinerly completed a layup, Nimari Burnett hit a 3, and Alabama had their biggest lead at 18. The Spartans closed within eight in the closing minutes but couldn’t get past 33% shooting in the second half.

BIG PICTURE

Alabama: The Crimson Tide’s athleticism was evident from the start. Alabama’s first three baskets made were dunks and it had five for the game.

Michigan State: The Spartans continued their brutal preseason schedule with a third game against a ranked opponent. The Spartans have previously played two teams that ranked in the top five at the time they met, then No. 2 Gonzaga and then No. 4 Kentucky.

NEXT

Alabama: Faces No. 20 UConn in Friday’s semifinals.

Michigan State: Faces Oregon in a consolation game on Friday.

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