The 3-pointer: Alabama basketball captures 8th SEC title
For the second time in three seasons, Alabama head coach Nate Oats lifted the SEC Tournament Championship trophy — this time in front of a capacity crowd in Nashville, Tennessee.
The top-seeded Crimson Tide picked up its eighth conference tournament title in program history, downing No. 2 seed Texas A&M, 82-63, Sunday. The win marks the fourth time in program history Alabama won the SEC regular-season and tournament title.
Here are three takeaways from Alabama's win on Sunday.
Quinerly bounces back
Jahvon Quinerly's struggles from the field Saturday were well documented.
Against Missouri, the senior tallied 1 point on an 0-for-9 shooting performance. It broke a 14-game streak in March where the guard scored in double digits, excluding last season's NCAA Tournament loss to Notre Dame when he tore his ACL.
Sunday, the "March version of JQ" returned in the first half, tallying 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting including a 3-for-4 mark from deep. He was Alabama's most proficient scorer with Brandon Miller getting into early foul trouble. It was the shot in the arm the Crimson Tide needed against an Aggies team that held Alabama to a season-low 22 first-half points in the final regular season game on March 4.
In the second half, the scoring continued as Quinerly finished the game with 23 points, the third time this season he finished a game with 20 points or more.
Alabama's defense stands tall
Just like it did eight days ago, Texas A&M came out firing.
But unlike that afternoon in College Station, when Alabama decided to up its defensive intensity, the Aggies didn't have an answer for it. After starting the game 3-for-6 from the floor, the Aggies couldn't score a basket for more than 11 minutes of the first half.
Alabama's length allowed just 23 points in the first half as the Aggies shot just 21% from the field. Sophomore Charles Bediako led the way in the first frame tallying eight rebounds and four of the team's five blocks. He would finish with his second double-double this season scoring 12 points and adding 13 rebounds.
Wade Taylor IV, who dominated Alabama with 28 points including a 10-for-10 mark at the free-throw line on March 4, was held scoreless in the first half on Sunday. Taylor made his first basket with 9:36 left in regulation despite averaging 16.6 points for Texas A&M this season.
Taylor finished with just 13 points on 3 of 11 shooting in the loss.
Alabama navigates foul trouble
While Alabama's defensive intensity was infectious on Sunday, it came with its fair share of foul calls.
The Crimson Tide racked up 13 personal fouls which put two key freshmen in foul trouble against the Aggies. Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney combined for seven fouls with Clowney picking up four or more for the sixth time this season. However, with Alabama's depth, it was able to mitigate the loss of the 6-foot-10 forward, relying heavily on Bediako, Nick Pringle and Noah Gurley. The trio combined for 47 minutes on Sunday which allowed Alabama to affect Texas A&M's smaller guards with its length.
Miller picked up his third foul with 2:33 left in the first half, but Oats kept him on the floor to end the half and for most of the final 20 minutes.
Despite the onus to play a bit more conservatively, Miller finished with another double-double tallying 23 points and 12 rebounds.