Whatever had been ailing the Alabama offense in the last couple of weeks of the regular season was seemingly healed in one half, as the Tide came out firing on all cylinders to throttle a tough Mississippi State squad in the SEC quarterfinals.
As usual, it was Brandon Miller keying things. He got his points, but even more impressive in this one were his passing skills. Miller effectively ran the point on quite a few possessions and distributed the ball masterfully, his 6-foot-9 stature allowing him a great view of the floor. He also led the way defending the perimeter and was a monster on the boards. If Brandon plays like this the rest of the way, good luck to all comers.
It was hardly a one man show in this one, however. Jahvon Quinerly looked like the version that helped lead the Tide to a SEC tournament championship and Sweet 16 run two years ago. It would be a great story should he become that second critical piece outside to key a national title run.
Charles Bediako had one of his best games as well. Mississippi State star big man Tolu Smith didn’t get his first bucket until the second half with Chuck patrolling the lane. Bediako swatted a few shots, changed more, was strong on the boards and ready to finish down low when the defense collapsed on Miller and Quinerly.
It was a strong defensive effort in general, as evidenced by the number of points allowed. Great defense and rebounding tends to lead to more transition opportunities, and we saw several of those. While far from perfect, this was the Tide’s most complete performance since the 49-point drubbing of Georgia on February 18.
Next up for Alabama will be the winner of the Tennessee-Missouri game that immediately follows. May they continue this type of play all the way through The Dance.