Brandon Miller was in a good mood and feeling good physically as well.
A day after being limited by a groin injury and without a stitch, Miller insisted Friday that he is fine for Alabama’s top-seeded overall NCAA Tournament second-round game against No. 8 seed Maryland. Saturday night.
‘I’m 100 per cent right now. Do you want to play 1 vs 1? Miller, 6-foot-9, joked with a much shorter reporter.
Miller played just 19 minutes in a first-round mismatch against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, sitting out most of the second half after telling coach Nate Oats the groin injury bothered him.
The All-American and probably top 5 NBA player came into that goose egg game averaging 20 points.
Brandon Miller said he feels ‘100 percent right now’ after struggling with a groin injury
The injury left Miller limping as he shot 0-for-5 and went scoreless against Texas A&M-CC
Head coach Nate Oats was more cautiously optimistic than Miller, but said he still felt good.
I think you’ve taken a good night off. Well deserved,” joked Terrapins coach Kevin Willard, who compared Miller to NBA star Paul George.
In February, Tuscaloosa police testified that Miller was the person who brought former teammate Darius Miles the gun used to kill Harris, 23, though Miles’ friend Michael Davis is believed to be the alleged shooter.
The mother-of-one was fatally injured on January 15.
Assistant District Attorney Paula Whitley told AL.com on February 21 that “there is nothing we can collect.” [Miller] with.’
Despite his involvement in the incident, Miller has remained active with the Alabama basketball team, despite criticism from many viewers.
Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne told Rece Davis and Pete Thamel on February 22, explaining that it was a joint decision between him, head coach Nate Oats, and school president Dr. Stuart R. Bell, allow Miller to play.
Miller also came under fire for his pregame introduction routine against Arkansas on February 25 when a teammate frisked him as he walked onto the field.
Oats called the routine “not appropriate” and said his players were told they were simulating a person being checked by the Transportation Security Administration before boarding a flight and have done so in multiple games this season.
The coach also said that the players would not do the introduction routine again after that match.
Miller has drawn more attention for his role in a tragic shooting that took place on February 2.
The shooting killed Jamea Jonae Harris; Miles was arrested and charged with capital murder
Miller has come under scrutiny after taking Darius Miles his gun before a fatal shooting
Oats was more cautiously optimistic than Miller about the striker’s health, but said he’s still in pretty good shape even when playing through injury.
He said Miller was limited in practice a day before the game for Alabama (30-5).
“Obviously it wasn’t one of his better games to start, but I think knowing Brandon and how tough he is, physically and mentally, I think he’ll be ready to play (on Saturday),” Oats said.
Teammates praised Miller for how he handled the game. It was only the second time he had fallen short of double digits, with No. 1 seed Houston holding him to eight points on Dec. 10.
“He handled it like a true professional,” point guard Jahvon Quinerly said. ‘I told him, look, we’re going to need what you’ve been bringing us all year (Saturday) night. I am 100 percent sure that he will bring what he has been bringing to us all year.
Alabama showed their depth with backups like Nick Pringle and Nimari Burnett stepping up when Miller was having an offside game. That led Willard to compare this Tide team to Rick Pitino’s super-talented Kentucky teams in the mid-1990s.
Miller has had to travel with armed guards due to the sickening threats leveled at him recently.
“I think this is the most talented roster I’ve seen in college basketball since the ’93-94 Kentucky team,” said Willard, the only Maryland coach to reach 20 wins in his first season.
“This team reminds me of that team with the length, the athleticism, how selfless they play, very similar point guards.”
As for Oats, he had suspicions that Willard was “trying to win over our team.” I don’t know if we’re that good, but we’ll see.
Maryland had a much tougher first-round challenge, advancing with a 67-65 win over West Virginia. The Terrapins, seeking their 15th trip to the Sweet 16 but their first since 2016, are giving up 63.2 points per game, their lowest since 1981-82.
Alabama and Maryland’s last meeting was in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, before either Willard or Miller entered the picture. The Tide made 16 3-pointers in a 96-77 victory. Quinerly is one of the few holdovers from that game on both teams. Maryland still has Donta Scott and Hakim Hart.
“It’s like a rematch of the round of 16 from two years ago,” Quinerly said. ‘That’s exciting.’