BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Brandon Miller heated up and so did Alabama, which avoided the fate of two other top NCAA Tournament seeds and brushed aside Maryland 73-51 behind a dominant second half on Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide (31-5) advanced to their second Sweet 16 in the past three tournaments and ninth overall. Alabama will face fifth-seeded San Diego State in the South Region semifinals in Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday.
Before the game even tipped off, two top seeds — Purdue and defending national champion Kansas — had gone down, and No. 1 seed Houston trailed Tide rival Auburn by 10 points at halftime earlier at Legacy Arena before pulling away.
Alabama and Miller got off to a slow start but the All-America freshman and top NBA prospect wound up with 19 points after going scoreless in the first-round game. Miller is nursing a groin injury and missed his first nine shots of the tournament.
Jahvon Quinerly scored 22 points on the one-year anniversary of his left knee injury early in a second-round loss to Notre Dame, which still limited him early this season. Quinerly made 4 of 6 3-pointers.
Charles Bediako had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Alabama’s starters hit the bench with a couple of minutes left to chants of “Sweet 16” in the friendly crowd.
Julian Reese had 14 points for Maryland (22-13) before fouling out. Jahmir Young scored 12.
Alabama, the top overall seed, faced scant drama, unlike the other No. 1s.
No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson toppled top-seeded Purdue 63-58 on Friday in only the second such upset. Then No. 8 Arkansas beat the Jayhawks 72-71 earlier Saturday. Houston ultimately pulled away from Auburn as the Tide waited for their opportunity.
The first half was more to Maryland’s liking — other than the 28-23 deficit — for a team that came in giving up just 63 points a game.
Maryland: The 2002 national champion Terps failed to make their 15th trip to the Sweet 16 in coach Kevin Willard’s first season. They also lost to Alabama in the second round two years ago under former coach Mark Turgeon. Maryland’s defense was on point enough that it kept the lead for much of the first half despite a stretch of nine straight misses.
Alabama: Its depth has been on display so far. The Tide controlled the game despite not getting much scoring from starters Mark Sears and Noah Clowney or Nick Pringle, the star of the opening game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Alabama faces a San Diego State team making its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2004, which was also the year of the Tide’s only Elite Eight run. The Crimson Tide have never reached the Final Four.