Alabama faced Maryland in the second round of the NCAA Tournament tonight, and took care of business by a score of 73-51.
The game got off to a horrible start for Alabama, as a couple of early turnovers aided Maryland’s run out to a 9-2 lead. The offense didn’t improve much throughout the half, but the defense was stifling enough for Alabama to take a 28-23 lead into the break. Brandon Miller led all scorers to that point with nine, despite playing through a groin injury.
A major storyline in the game was Maryland’s star big Julian Reese getting himself in early foul trouble. He scored four early points as the Terps built the aforementioned lead, but played only four minutes thanks to his three fouls. Things went substantially smoother for Alabama when Reese was on the bench.
An injury to Noah Clowney is about the last thing this team needs, but Noah turned his ankle shortly before the half. Fortunately he was able to stretch it out sufficiently to push through. Let’s hope it doesn’t tighten up before the next game.
The Tide started strong in the second half as they have been wont to do this season, pushing the lead out to 10 by the first media timeout of the half. As he has done so often this season, Jahvon Quinerly started a run with a blow-by, and a couple of Brandon Miller threes created the extra separation on the scoreboard.
The outside shooting never got much better, but the defense and rebounding were absolutely stellar. The Tide led by as much as 17 in the half, and it took Maryland more than 32 minutes of basketball to touch 40 on the scoreboard. Charles Bediako had one of his best games at Alabama, owning the paint as both a rim protector and rebounder.
Tonight’s was not a pretty performance on offense, but it became a solid beating of a good team on a night when the threes weren’t falling. Championship caliber teams win games like this.
This time of year, it’s all about survive and advance. Mission accomplished, and we’re now on to Louisville, where San Diego State awaits.