Miller scores 30 points as No. 4 Alabama beats Vandy 78-66 | National

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Alabama coach Nate Oats reached out to Ray Lewis for advice on how to help his fourth-seeded Crimson Tide, two days after a teammate was charged with capital murder.

Oats prayed with his players and shared a Bible verse suggested by the Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker, whose daughter recently visited Alabama. Then on Tuesday night, the Crimson Tide put aside its emotions and focused on basketball for 40 minutes.

Freshman Brandon Miller scored 30 points and had 10 rebounds as Alabama defeated Vanderbilt 78-66 for their seventh straight win. Alabama didn’t make any players available after the game, and Oats said he didn’t see much emotion ahead of the tip.

“I saw some guys collapse after the game,” Oats said. “I think they bottled some stuff. We have a job to do. We have to go to the game. We’ve come to the game and done the business, and then it’s almost like a huge relief. The game is over and we can breathe easy.”

Reserve junior forward Darius Miles was charged Sunday, a day after Alabama previously announced he would miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury. Investigators said Miles admitted to supplying the pistol immediately before 23-year-old Jamea Harris was shot and killed near campus early Sunday.

Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse crumpled up the stat sheet when asked what Alabama was up to, saying he “can’t believe we even played that game.” Stackhouse said he told his Commodores to cherish an opportunity that someone they ran against will likely never get again.

“Believe them, they’re capable of going through all this stuff that’s around them, coming out and performing like they did tonight, you know, hats off,” Stackhouse said of Alabama . “They were the better team tonight.”

The Crimson Tide (16-2, 6-0 SEC) recovered well against a team they defeated in the conference tournament last March. All six SEC wins were in double digits, although late on Vandy threatened a 13-2 run.

Jordan Wright missed a 3 with 36 seconds to go while Vandy trailed 70-62. The Crimson Tide finished the win at the free throw line by knocking down all eight tries, and Miller had six of them.

Jaden Bradley and Noah Gurley each added 12 points as eight Alabama players scored. Gurley capped the win with a dunk in the dying seconds and Oats apologized after the game, saying it wasn’t done to “rub it in”.

Vanderbilt (9-9, 2-3) has now lost three of his last four – all to ranked opponents. The Commodores are now 3-15 against top 25 teams overall in Stackhouse’s fourth season.

Tyrin Lawrence led Vanderbilt by 20 points, Wright added 15, and Ezra Manjon had 11.

Alabama opened the game with the first six points and took a 13-3 lead after a Gurley free throw. Vanderbilt responded back and took his lone lead 22-21 after a 3-pointer from Malik Dia. Then the Crimson Tide took control and ended the half with a 15-4 run for a 36-26 halftime lead.

The Tide just kept scoring. Miller capped a 32-8 run with a 3-pointer with 12:44 remaining for Alabama’s largest lead at 53-30. Vanderbilt couldn’t have been much colder, missing 10 of his first 11 shots for the halftime. Wright’s 3 with 12:28 left was the Commodores’ second bucket made of the second half.

BIG PICTURE

Alabama showed their speed and shooting ability to remain undefeated in league play. This is only Tide’s second 6-0 start in the SEC under Oats in his fourth season. Alabama had not opened the SEC game undefeated so far in the league since a 5-0 start in the 1986-87 season.

Vanderbilt wasn’t helped by not having fifth-year forward Liam Robbins with an injured ankle. He had 18 points in last weekend’s win over then-No. 15 Arkansas. Robbins will be out for four to six weeks. The 7-footer ranks fifth nationally and eighth with a total of 50 blocks, averaging 2.94 shots per game. He saved two wins by blocking potential game winners on the buzzer against Temple and Pittsburgh and is a big reason the Commodores rank 19th at an average of 5.3 blocked shots per game.

Stackhouse said he learned Tuesday morning that Robbins would be out with what appeared to be a bone bruise and sprain after an MRI came back negative Monday night.

SURVEY IMPACT

The Crimson Tide have positioned themselves to potentially win more votes if they win their first game since Miles was arrested.

NEXT

Alabama continues a two-game road swing in Missouri Saturday.

Vanderbilt visits Georgia on Saturday.


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