Gamecocks Drop Heartbreaker to No. 2/2 Alabama in OT
South Carolina Athletics
Brandon Miller scored the game-winning bucket with 0.8 seconds to go in overtime
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Embattled Brandon Miller scored a career-high 41 points, including the go-ahead basket with 0.9 seconds left in overtime, as No. 2 Alabama outlasted South Carolina 78-76 on Wednesday night.
Miller’s performance came a day after the 6-foot-9 freshman standout was linked to a fatal shooting near campus last month. However, hours before tipoff, Alabama said Miller was “not a suspect” and would remain an “active member” for the Crimson Tide (24-4, 14-1 Southeastern Conference).
Miller shook off some early struggles to lead Alabama, which kept its one-game lead over No. 25 Texas A&M in the race for the SEC regular-season championship.
Miller’s final basket in regulation, with 4.1 seconds to play, tied the game at 68 and forced the extra period. Miller finished 14 of 25 from the field and had six of Alabama’s seven 3-pointers.
It was a wild finish to an eventful day when Alabama officials announced hours before tipoff Miller would travel and play against the Gamecocks despite testimony he transported the gun used in a fatal shooting to former teammate Darius Miles, now one of two people facing capital murder charges.
Miller’s attorney said his client never touched the gun and drove away from the scene when shots were fired.
The game appeared to be the biggest of mismatches with Alabama rolling toward a No. 1 seed in the SEC and NCAA Tournaments, and South Carolina (10-17, 3-11) having lost its previous seven conference games at home.
But it was the Gamecocks who delivered the punches early. They made seven straight shots, including the first college 3 for little-used freshman Eli Sparkman, to lead 22-15 midway through the opening period.
Alabama and Miller rallied and moved in front. Miller hit a smooth 3-pointer, ran the break and finished with a high-flying jam, then had a twisting drive that ended with a dunk, sending the Tide ahead 25-24.
- The Crimson Tide shot 62.5 percent going (5-for-8) in overtime to secure their league leading 14th conference win of the season. Freshman Brandon Miller scored six of Alabama’s 10 overtime points including the game winning layup with 0.8 seconds remaining.
- Gregory “GG” Jackson II recorded his 23rd double figure scoring game of the season and led Carolina with 19 points. It marks his 15th game this season leading the team in scoring.
- Meechie Johnson and Jacobi Wright also scored in double figures for Carolina with 18 each. Wright set a new career-high with seven made field goals and tied his career-high in scoring (18). Johnson recorded his 18th game in double figures this season and led the team with four assists, also adding five rebounds.
- The trio of Jackson II, Johnson, and Wright combined for 55 of Carolina’s 76 points in the game.
- Josh Gray led the Gamecocks with six rebounds leading the team in that category for the 12th time this season. He also scored eight points shooting 60.0 percent in 30 minutes of action.
- The Gamecock defense held Alabama to just 25.9 percent from 3 for the game (7-for-27).
- South Carolina forced 12 Alabama turnovers and capitalized on 17 points off those turnovers.
The Gamecocks (10-18, 3-12 SEC) head to Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday to face No. 11/13 Tennessee (20-8, 9-6 SEC). Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. (ET) with Kevin Fitzgerald (pxp) and Dane Bradshaw (analyst) on the call. South Carolina has lost five-straight in Knoxville with the last win a 70-60 victory on Jan. 11, 2017.