Brandon Miller overcame an inhospitable reception to score the winning basket with 0.9 seconds left in overtime while pouring in a career-best 41 points to lead No. 2 Alabama to a 78-76 victory over host South Carolina on Wednesday night in Southeastern Conference play at Columbia, S.C.
Charles Bediako added 10 points and nine rebounds as the Crimson Tide (24-4, 14-1 SEC) won for the 15th time in 17 games. Miller also had eight rebounds, six 3-pointers, three steals and two blocked shots for Alabama, which leads second-place Texas A&M by one game in the SEC race.
Gregory “GG” Jackson Jr. scored 19 points for South Carolina (10-18, 3-12), which lost for the 10th time in 12 games. Meechie Johnson and Jacobi Wright added 18 points apiece for the Gamecocks.
Miller was booed every time he touched the ball by South Carolina fans one day after a Tuscaloosa (Ala.) police detective testified that the star freshman transported a gun to then-teammate Darius Miles that was used in the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Jamea Harris on Jan. 15. Miller hasn’t been charged with a crime and the school announced hours before Wednesday’s game that Miller would play against the Gamecocks.
“He’s one of the most mentally tough kids I’ve ever coached,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said afterward. “Not surprised — 41 points, you don’t want to say you expect that but not surprised he came ready to play well and played well tonight.”
Miller easily eluded the defense of Jackson to drive for the decisive basket. Johnson’s last-ditch 55-footer for the Gamecocks bounced off the rim as time expired.
Miller’s layup with 2:58 left in overtime gave him 37 points to establish a career high and provided Alabama with a 72-70 lead. Noah Clowney added a dunk for the Crimson Tide before Wright made two jumpers to knot it at 74 with 1:03 remaining.
Miller drove for another hoop to put Alabama back ahead with 38 seconds to play before Johnson scored the tying hoop for the Gamecocks with 20.5 seconds remaining.
Wright drained a pull-up jumper from the top of the key with 14.3 seconds left in regulation to give South Carolina a 68-66 lead. Miller forced overtime with a driving hoop with 4.1 seconds remaining.
Alabama shot 43.5 percent from the field, including 7-from-27 from 3-point range, and held a 40-27 rebounding edge for the game.
The Gamecocks shot 48.4 percent and were 9 of 21 from behind the arc.
Hayden Brown’s jumper gave the Gamecocks a 64-59 lead with 3:18 left to play before Alabama scored six straight to regain the lead.
Johnson swished a halfcourt jumper as time expired in the first half to give South Carolina a 35-31 lead.
Jackson led the Gamecocks with 13 first-half points, while Miller tallied 15 for the Crimson Tide.
–Field Level Media