Miller scores 24, No. 3 Alabama races past Florida 97-69
Brandon Miller scored 24 points and made 4 of 8 3-pointers to lead No. 3 Alabama to a 97-69 victory over Florida
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — With freshman star Brandon Miller leading the way, Alabama is now off to its best Southeastern Conference start in nearly seven decades.
Miller scored 24 points and made 4 of 8 3-pointers to lead No. 3 Alabama to a 97-69 victory over Florida on Wednesday night for the program's best SEC start since the 1955-56 team went 14-0 in league games.
The Crimson Tide (21-3, 11-0) raced to a 29-point halftime lead against the Gators (13-11, 6-5), who had knocked off then-No. 2 Tennessee a week earlier.
Alabama also matched the 1975-76 team for the program's best record through 24 games.
“It’s great. They’ve had a lot of really good teams here,” Tide coach Nate Oats said. “I don't even know who was in the SEC back in 55-56, but it's a good league now.
"We’re just trying to play good basketball. I think we played pretty well tonight. It’s nice to make some history around here.”
Miller added nine rebounds and three assists for the Tide. Mark Sears made 4 of 6 3s and scored 19 for Alabama, which buried 15 shots from long range. Jahvon Quinerly had 11 points and five assists.
Colin Castleton led Florida with 29 points and 10 rebounds. He accounted for 13 of his team's 23 in the first half and made 11 of 14 free throws. Riley Kugel added 15 points and Will Richard scored 11.
It was a rough way to end a four-game stretch that included three Top 5 opponents and a visit to Kentucky's Rupp Arena.
“A really challenging time for us,” Florida coach Todd Golden said. "A lot of fatigue both physically and mentally. We thought after beating Tennessee last week and then having a close emotional loss on Saturday (against Kentucky) that this was going to be a challenging game for us.
“And we just didn't play well enough. I thought Alabama looked fresh. Obviously they respect us in the way they approached the game and they played a really good game.”
Alabama built a 52-23 halftime lead on a combination of scorching 3-point shooting, and the Gators' own shooting woes. The Tide made 9 of 17 3s by halftime while Florida missed its five attempts.
Alabama started the rout with a 23-4 run that included Quinerly's eight points and the team's four 3s.
Miller hit 3 of 4 3s in the first half, including a pair in the final three minutes.
It was a hot start for a team coming off a more lackluster 79-69 win over LSU.
“We weren’t happy with our game at LSU,” Oats said. “I think guys understood we’ve got to play better. It wasn’t who we were. Two out of our last three games, we haven’t played hard enough, long enough.”
The Gators got as close as 17 in the second half but Miller answered with eight points in less than two minutes: a 3-pointer, a one-handed dunk and a basket and subsequent foul shot.
“Coach called a time out and we just regrouped as a team and got our energy back right together,” Sears said.
Alabama's Noah Clowney left the court in the middle of the second half and didn't return. Oats said it was a facial injury, not a concussion and Clowney shouldn't miss a game.
Florida: Has faced four different top 5 teams for the first time in program history, going 2-2. Castleton tied Al Horford (2004-07) for third place in career blocks at Florida with his 188th and 189th.
Alabama: Made 15 of 34 3-pointers (44%) against a defense that came in allowing opponents to hit only 29%. Has won its first 11 SEC games for only the second time.
Florida faces Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Alabama visits in-state rival Auburn on Saturday.
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