Embattled NBA prospect Brandon Miller went scoreless, but top-seeded Alabama still buried Texas A&M-Corpus Christi under an early 3-point onslaught, launching the Crimson Tide to a 96-75 first-round romp on Thursday.
The Crimson Tide (30-5) set aside their off-court distractions and buried 10 first-half 3s in a predictably easy win over the 16th-seeded Islanders (24-11) at Legacy Arena, less than an hour from campus.
Miller, the All-American who has been beset by questions about his presence at the scene of a fatal shooting, sat out the final 14 minutes and missed all five field goal attempts. His previous low was eight points against Houston on December 10.
Miller, 20, hasn’t been accused of any crime in the shooting, which led to capital murder charges against then-teammate Darius Miles and another man.
Alabama didn’t need the six-foot-nine freshman to have a big game to advance to play eighth-seeded Maryland on Saturday in the South Region. The Tide coasted after leading 54-34 by the half.
Brandon Miller, of the Alabama Crimson Tide, went scoreless on his March Madness debut
Jamea Harris (L), a 23-year-old mother, was fatally shot near the University of Alabama campus on January 15. Crimson Tide forward Darius Miles (right) and another male, Michael Lynn Davis, have been arrested and indicted on capital murder charges in her death. Miles was expelled from Alabama’s men basketball team
Miller, who hasn’t been accused of any crime in the shooting, missed all 5 field goal attempts
Nick Pringle, a junior college transfer who came in averaging three points a game, scored 17 and had a season-high 13 rebounds. Mark Sears made three threes in a 58-second span of the first half and scored 15 points. Jahvon Quinerly scored 13 and Nimari Burnett had 11.
Noah Clowney scored all 10 of his points in the first five-plus minutes, including three threes.
Trevian Tennyson led the Islanders with 20 points. Isaach Mushula scored 16 and Owen Dease 14. The Islanders have never beaten a ranked team.
Coach Steve Lutz has lifted the Islanders to two straight NCAA Tournaments since taking over a team that had gone 5-19 the year before his arrival.
The Islanders were without Terrion Murdix (left knee injury), the Southland League defensive player of the year.
The family of University of Alabama student-athlete Kai Spears has slammed a report from the New York Times alleging the Crimson Tide guard was alongside Miller on the night of a January 15 murder as ‘demonstrably false.’
A New York Times report said Spears was in a car with Miller, which was struck by bullets in a shootout which killed 23-year-old mother, Jamea Harris.
To this point, Spears had not been mentioned in reporting, with only Miller, guard Jaden Bradley and ex-Alabama player Darius Miles mentioned as being at the scene.
The family of Alabama student-athlete Kai Spears slammed a New York Times report claiming Spears was near the vehicle in which Harris was shot in, describing it as ‘demonstrably false’
A spokesman for both the family, and the university, denied Spears was present alongside Miller during the shooting.
‘The article in the New York Times, dated March 15, 2023, identifying Kai as a fourth person at the scene of a shooting is demonstrably false, as we can demonstrate Kai was not in the car, nor near the vicinity at the time in question,’ attorney Stephen P. New said in a statement, of behalf of Spears and his family.
‘The irresponsible journalism has harmed Kai and his family, as well as the University of Alabama and Marshall University (where Spears’ father is the Athletic Director). I have reached out to General Counsel for the New York Times, with no response.
‘As you can imagine, the Spears family has been incredibly impacted by this harmful and false article, as is clear in Mr. Spears’ own words:
‘I am furious at the completely erroneous article(s) placing my son in the car at the scene. It is absolutely false; Kai was not there,’ Christian Spears said in the statement. ‘O am grateful to the people who are supporting our family. We all must hold irresponsible journalists and their publications accountable.’
‘[NYT] story is inaccurate,’ a UA spokesperson told AL.com in a statement.
‘Based on the information we have, there were no current student-athletes present at the scene other than Brandon Miller and Jaden Bradley, who are both fully cooperating witnesses.
‘From the outset, UA Athletics has fully cooperated with law enforcement and supported their investigation.’
Spears himself denied to provide an elaborate response to the Times, simply saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not going to be able to speak about that.’
A lawyer on behalf of the Spears family released a statement, slamming the NY Times report
Miles and another man, Michael Lynn Davis, have been arrested and indicted on capital murder charges in Harris’s death. Miles has since been kicked off the Alabama team.
Miller allegedly brought a gun to Miles that night that was later used by Davis in the fatal shooting, according to police testimony.
Tuscaloosa chief deputy D.A. Paula Whitley declined to tell AL.com last month why Miller wasn’t charged, saying: ‘That’s not a question I can answer. There’s nothing we could charge him with.’
He has continued to play, and star, for the Tide this season. Miller reacted to the shooting publicly for the first time on March 8.
‘This whole situation is just really heart-breaking, but respectfully that’s all I’m going to be able to say on that,’ said Miller.