After beating the Spain Select Team 108-64 in Barcelona the Alabama Crimson Tide traveled to Paris and defeated the Lithuania B team 120-61. And today, in an impressive step-up in competition against the China National Team, the Tide won 89-77.
The first two opponents were not top tier, but the win over China was a legitimate game, a top-30 FIBA ranked National Team
Against Lithuania on Tuesday, once again Brandon Miller was the big dog, leading the way with 28 points. Nimari Burnett tossed in 19 while Darius Miles tallied 13 and Mark Sears added nine points. Bama jumped out to a 40-16 lead after the first quarter and coasted home from there.
On Friday, the opponent was a lot stronger as team China boasted a couple of 7-footers and former NBA draft picks, alongside several others that play in the Chinese professional league.
At the half ‘Bama led 41-35 despite only shooting 34% on 12-35 from the field with an all-too familiar line of 3-17 from three-point range. The Tide was leading the rebounding battle 23-17 at the break including an 11-5 advantage on the offensive boards. Burnett had 12 points at the half while Miles had eight.
After three quarters, the Tide held a 65-54 lead, and Miller was up to 14 points and Burnett had 13. A three-pointer by Miller gave Bama a 70-54 lead with nine minutes left before China went on a run to cut the margin to eight at 75-67 with five minutes left.
Miller and fellow freshman Noah Clowney combined to score 10 straight for the Tide to stretch the lead back out and the team cruised to the 89-77 win. Miller had 21 points and five rebounds, Burnett had 13 points and four boards, Clowney had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Miles with 11 and Sears with 10 also scored in double digits.
Alabama shot 50% on 22-44 from the field with 19% (6-32) from three point ranged and won the battle of the boards over the bigger Chinese team 47-36 with 23 of those being on the offensive end.
This team gained some valuable experience on this trip. With eight new players, it is important to learn how to play together and each others tendencies.
Although it is very early I think this group is worth getting excited about. Get your eyes full of Brandon Miller while you can, because after March he should be headed to the NBA Draft.