No. 4 Alabama finishes off SEC title double dip at tourney

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Brandon Miller scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as fourth-ranked Alabama smothered No. 18 Texas A&M 82-63 on Sunday for the Crimson Tide’s second Southeastern Conference Tournament championship in three seasons.

The Crimson Tide also capped their second SEC double dip in three seasons after picking up their regular-season trophy before Friday’s quarterfinals. The Tide (29-5) extended the program record for wins while adding its eighth tournament title in its 15th appearance; both are second only to Kentucky in the SEC.

Miller, the tournament MVP and AP All-SEC player and newcomer of the year, posted his ninth double-double of the season. Jahvon Quinerly, who was 0-of-9 shooting with one point in the semifinal, made his first three 3s and scored 13 of his 22 points in the first half. Charles Bediako had 12 points and 13 rebounds.

The second-seeded Aggies (25-9) dropped to 0-3 in the tournament finale, losing for a second straight year. Dexter Dennis led Texas A&M with 14 points, Wade Taylor IV had 13 and Tyrece Radford 12.

Alabama snapped a five-game skid to Texas A&M, which included a 67-61 loss in College Station on March 4 in the regular season.

Mark Sears opened with a 3-pointer, and Alabama never trailed, making four of its first six 3s. The Tide led by as many as 33-17 with 4:10 left on a pair of free throws by Miller and 34-23 at halftime.

The Aggies could not knock down shots, shooting a season-low 29.7% (19-of-64) from the floor, and never got closer than nine in the second half.

The Tide padded their lead to as much as 25 before coach Nate Oats pulled his starters.

Alabama is chasing a top seeding in the NCAA Tournament despite a season that has been challenging. Former Tide player Darius Miles and another man were indicted earlier this week on capital murder charges for the January shooting death of 23-year-old Jamea Harris.

In February, an investigator testified that Miles texted Miller to bring him his gun. Police also said that Jaden Bradley also was at the scene. Neither Miller nor Bradley have been charged, and both have been playing – Miller, especially.


Texas A&M: The best the Aggies could do in the first half was force a shot clock violation with 1:37 left. The SEC leader in free throws attempted – and among only three teams nationally with more than 800 free throws attempted this season- stayed close at the line, making 10 of 12 in the first half.

Alabama: Oats improved to 6-1 in the SEC Tournament, and his winning percentage is second since 1979 only to Rick Pitino who went 17-1 for a 94.4% mark at Kentucky. … The Tide also improved to 9-0 in Nashville under Oats, including 6-0 at Bridgestone Arena where the SEC Tournament is scheduled to be held through 2030 with an option to extend to 2035.


Texas A&M: Now turns its attention to what should be coach Buzz Williams’ first NCAA Tournament berth after the Aggies were snubbed last year.

Alabama: Polished off its case for the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament after No. 3 Kansas lost in the Big 12 Tournament title game.

Alabama’s Brandon Miller is AP SEC Player, Newcomer of the Year

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Alabama freshman Brandon Miller is The Associated Press player of the year and newcomer of the year in the Southeastern Conference.

Texas A&M’s Buzz Williams was named coach of the year in voting by 14 reporters who cover the SEC.

Texas A&M guard Wade Taylor IV and Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe, last year’s national player of the year, were unanimous first-team picks. The other first-team selections are Missouri guard/forward Kobe Brown and Mississippi State forward Tolu Smith.

Miller was a first-team pick on all but one ballot, received 12 player of the year votes and 11 as top newcomer for the regular-season SEC champions and No. 4-ranked Crimson Tide. The 6-foot-9 forward is only the fourth freshman in the last 50 years to lead the SEC in scoring, averaging 19.6 points along with 8.0 rebounds. He is also tops in 3-pointers made, making 92 and hitting at a 40.4% rate.

Miller’s name surfaced in court testimony in the capital murder case of now-former teammate Darius Miles and another man in the shooting death of 23-year-old Jamea Harris near campus.

A police officer testified that Miles texted Miller asking him to bring Miles’ gun in the early morning hours of Jan. 15. Fellow freshman starter Jaden Bradley was also at the scene. Neither has missed a start or been accused of any crime. The university has described Miller as a cooperating witness, not a suspect.

A day after that testimony, Miller scored 41 points and hit the game-winning shot in overtime to beat South Carolina amid jeers from Gamecocks fans. Afterward, Alabama coach Nate Oats called Miller “one of the most mentally tough kids I’ve ever coached.”

The Aggies’ Taylor also received two votes as player of the year. LSU forward KJ Williams, Arkansas guards Ricky Council IV and Anthony Black each received a vote for newcomer of the year.

Williams received eight votes, Missouri’s Dennis Gates five and Alabama’s Oats one in the coach of the year balloting.

The second team included Council, Tennessee guard Zakai Zeigler, Williams, Florida forward Colin Castleton and Vanderbilt forward Liam Robbins.


Guard – Kobe Brown, Missouri, Sr., 6-8, 250, Huntsville, Alabama.

u-Guard – Wade Taylor IV, Texas A&M, So., 6-0, 185, Dallas.

Forward – Brandon Miller, Alabama, Fr., 6-9, 200, Antioch, Tennessee.

Forward – Tolu Smith, Mississippi St., Sr., 6-11, 245, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

u-Forward – Oscar Tshwiebe, Sr., 6-9, 260, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Guard – Ricky Council IV, Arkansas, Jr., 6-6, 205, Durham, North Carolina.

Guard – Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee, So., 5-9, 171, Long Island, New York.

Forward – Colin Castleton, Florida, Sr., 6-11, 250, Deland, Florida.

Forward – Liam Robbins, Vanderbilt, Sr., 7-0, 250, Davenport, Iowa.

Forward – KJ Williams, LSU, Sr,, 6-10, 250, Cleveland, Mississippi.

Coach of the year – Buzz Williams, Texas A&M.

Player of the year – Brandon Miller, Alabama.

Newcomer of the year – Brandon Miller, Alabama.

— AP All-SEC Voting Panel: Rick Bozich, WDRB-TV, Louisville, Kentucky; Kevin Brockway, Gainesville Sun; Travis Brown, Bryan-College Station Eagle; David Cloninger, Post & Courier; Adam Cole, Opelika-Auburn News; Clayton Collier, WATN-TV, Memphis, Tennessee; Robbie Faulk, Starkville Daily News; Aria Gerson, The Tennessean; Bob Holt, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Stefan Krajisnik, Clarion-Ledger; Dave Matter, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Sheldon Mickles, Baton Rouge Advocate; Mike Rodak,; Marc Weiszer, Athens Banner-Herald.

No. 24 Texas A&M escapes early hole, beats Ole Miss 69-61

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OXFORD, Miss. – Tyrece Radford scored 13 points as No. 24 Texas A&M erased an early 12-point deficit to beat Mississippi 69-61 on Tuesday night.

Wade Taylor IV added 12 points and seven assists and Julius Marble scored 10 for the Aggies, who went 13 of 16 from the free-throw line in the second half to stave off the Rebels’ attempt at a late rally.

Texas A&M (22-8, 14-3 Southeastern Conference) trailed 20-8 after seven minutes but took a 29-26 lead on Taylor’s 3-pointer with 4:06 left in the first half. The Aggies never trailed again, leading 34-28 at halftime and expanding their advantage to as many as 10 points in the second half.

“We didn’t handle the intensity or the pace early, obviously,” Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams said. “But we went from 13 down to the lead by halftime. We were able to change the rhythm to being more conducive for us and who we are.”

Matthew Murrell made 8 of 11 from 3-point range and scored 26 points to lead Ole Miss (11-19, 3-13).

“We’ve shown we can play with anybody and the SEC Tournament is still out there,” Ole Miss interim coach Win Case said. “We knew they’d make a run because they’re a real good team but I’m really proud of our team tonight.”

The Aggies shot just 37.9% from the field and 22.7% from 3-point range. However, they had only five turnovers.


Texas A&M: The Aggies are 16-3 since Christmas and have locked up a second-place finish in the SEC standings and the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. Tuesday’s win wasn’t pretty, but the Aggies survived on the road against an inspired opponent. Now they must prepare to face No. 2 Alabama.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do before Saturday,” Williams said. “I know they’ve got the best players. I know they’re No. 1 in the league in offense and defense. I haven’t had time to look at them yet, but I know that much about them.”

Ole Miss: The Rebels continue to play hard for Case, who replaced the fired Kermit Davis on Feb. 24. But no one other than Murrell scored in double figures or made more than one 3-pointer for Ole Miss.


Texas A&M: Hosts Alabama on Saturday.

Ole Miss: At Missouri on Saturday.

Texas A&M beats Auburn 83-78, completes season sweep

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Wade Taylor IV had 22 points and seven assists, Julius Marble scored a career-high 20 points and Texas A&M beat Auburn 83-78 on Tuesday night to complete a regular-season sweep.

The last of 11 lead changes in the final eight minutes came after Texas A&M made 7 of 9 shots, with three straight makes from Marble, to build a 78-74 lead with 2:09 left.

Auburn guard Wendell Green Jr. was short on a long 3-pointer and Tyrece Radford secured the defensive rebound before being fouled with 24.9 seconds left. Radford made two free throws to extend Texas A&M’s lead to 80-76. Green had a layup roll off the rim and Andersson Garcia went 1 of 2 from the line for a five-point lead before Auburn was short on another 3-pointer with 10.8 left.

Texas A&M was 31 of 39 from the free-throw line compared to 9 of 14 for Auburn.

Garcia added 11 points and Radford scored 10 for Texas A&M (17-7, 9-2 SEC), which also beat then-No. 15 Auburn 79-63 on Jan. 25. The Aggies are off to their best conference start since joining the SEC in 2012.

Green finished with 20 points and six assists for Auburn (17-7, 7-4). Johni Broome had 18 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out late and Jaylin Williams and Allen Flanigan each scored 12 points.

Texas A&M plays at LSU on Saturday. Auburn, which has lost four of its last five games, hosts No. 3 Alabama on Saturday.

Texas A&M stuns No. 15 Arkansas 82-64 to reach SEC final

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TAMPA, Fla. – Surging Texas A&M isn’t leaving its NCAA Tournament hopes to chance.

With three wins in three days over favored opponents, the eighth-seeded Aggies not only have landed an unlikely spot in the championship game of the SEC Tournament but almost certainly ensured their inclusion in the NCAA field of 68, too.

The Aggies can earn the SEC’s automatic berth by beating No. 9 Tennessee on Sunday. But even with a loss in the final, they’re likely in – only weeks after looking like they had no shot.

“That’s not up to me. I just go out there, and I play my game. That’s up to the higher-ups,” leading scorer Quenton Jackson said after his 20-point performance helped the Aggies take down No. 15 Arkansas 82-64 in the semifinals on Saturday. “I try to make sure that me and my team are on the same page and we play as hard as we can every night.”

The Aggies (23-11) took down a ranked opponent for the second straight day, with Jackson also contributing six assists, five rebounds and four steals.

A&M improved to 8-1 since ending a month-long, eight-game losing streak in February.

“I think it’s really just a testament to what we’ve been preaching to each other all week. We know that for us to have a chance to win any game, it’s got to start with our energy level and how we attack the game,” the Aggies’ Hayden Hefner said.

“I would go even further and say it’s a testament of everything that we have done since the year started, all the work that we put in from boot camp, to individuals, to practices, to all that,” Jackson added. “It’s a testament of all of that.”

Hassan Diarra, whose clutch 3-pointer in the closing seconds of overtime gave the Aggies an 83-80 victory in A&M’s tournament opener, had 12 points. Tyrece Radford and Henry Coleman contributed 12 of 11 points, respectively, after playing key roles in a five-point upset of fourth-ranked Auburn in the quarterfinals.

Arkansas (25-8) split a pair of games with the Aggies in January but was no match for them Saturday after falling behind by double digits in the first half.

Stanley Umude led the Razorbacks with 20 points. Au’Diese Toney added 18, but leading scorer JD Notae was slowed by foul trouble and limited to five points – nearly 14 below his average – on 2-of-8 shooting.

Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said his team “got totally outplayed.”

“I think JD, obviously the foul trouble was problematic. It wasn’t just offense. I can’t remember JD’s defense like that since we’ve been together,” Musselman said. “So it was both sides of the basketball, to be honest with you.”

The eighth-seeded Aggies opened a double-digit lead for the third straight day, leading 36-24 at halftime after squandering a 16-point lead during its victory over Florida and nearly letting a 20-point advantage slip away in a 67-62 upset of top-seeded Auburn on Friday.

This time, the Aggies didn’t waver.

Arkansas, the No. 4 seed after winning 14 of 16 games to end the regular season, used an 8-0 burst to trim an 11-point deficit to 47-44. But Texas A&M was hardly rattled, rebuilding the lead to 11 over the next three minutes and hiking it to 68-52 on Radford’s three-point play with 6:30 to go.

Aggies coach Buzz Williams emptied his bench after leading by as many as 23 down the stretch.


College basketball icon Dick Vitale was honored before Saturday’s semifinals, with the SEC recognizing his contributions to the sport, the league and his fight against cancer. The Hall of Fame television analyst lives in nearby Sarasota, Florida, and was presented a basketball signed by the league’s 14 coaches. Vitale walked into Amalie Arena amid a standing ovation – and shouts of “Dickie V!” – and accepted the autographed ball from SEC commissioner Greg Sankey at midcourt.

The 82-year-old Vitale has been public about his treatment for assorted medical issues, including at least two forms of cancer.


Texas A&M: The Aggies are in the tournament final for the second time since moving from the Big 12 to the SEC. They lost to Kentucky in overtime in 2016.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks shot 17% from behind the 3-point arc, missing 15 of 18 attempts.


Texas A&M: Faces No. 9 Tennessee. The Volunteers won the regular season meeting between the teams 90-80 in Knoxville on Feb. 1.

Arkansas: Awaits its seeding and opening opponent in the NCAA Tournament.

Kessler blocks 12, gets triple-double, No. 1 Auburn tops A&M

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AUBURN, Ala.- Walker Kessler did it again for No. 1 Auburn.

Kessler recorded his second triple-double in six weeks, and just the third in program history, as the Tigers bounced back from a loss with a 75-58 victory over Texas A&M.

Kessler’s final tally: 12 blocked shots, 12 points and 11 rebounds Saturday. He’s emerged as a star after playing a lesser role as a freshman for North Carolina.

“He’s one of the most dominant players in all of college basketball,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “How would you have ever thought that you could say that a year ago?”

The same could be said for his team.

The 7-foot-1 Tar Heels transfer rejected four of the Aggies’ first seven shots and swatted away bad feelings from earlier in the week. The Tigers (22-3, 11-1 Southeastern Conference) had their 19-game winning streak stopped by Arkansas in overtime.

And Kessler’s teammates were able to funnel the offensive players in his direction, with results that are becoming fairly predictable.

“They make it easy to block shots because they’re so good at defending the ball,” he said. “They know that I can block the shots so they corral the guard to me so I wouldn’t be able to do that kind of stuff without them.”

The Aggies (15-10, 4-8) dropped their eighth straight game and had one of their worst offensive performances of the season.

Allen Flanigan scored a season-high 16 points for Auburn while K.D. Johnson added 11 and Devan Cambridge 10. Jabari Smith had nine points and eight rebounds. Kessler scored 10 points in the second half.

Henry Coleman III had 10 points and 13 rebounds for Texas A&M, while Quenton Jackson scored 11. Tyrece Radford and Wade Taylor IV also had 10 points.

Aggies coach Buzz Williams called Auburn “a team that’s good enough to win the national championship.”

“I always want to give credit to the opponent,” Williams said. “I do think there were some shots, particularly in the first half, that maybe you would say, should we have shot it? We were a little bit out of sorts on three or four possessions.”

The Aggies had been 5-0 at Auburn Arena but trailed by as many as 25 in this one. But the 3-of-25 shooting from 3-point range could come back to haunt the Tigers.

“Our team played really hard today in front of a national television audience,” Pearl said. “They played really good defense. We didn’t make as many shots as we need to to get to the point where we feel like we’re special, but that’s what needs to be done.”

Auburn point guard Zep Jasper returned to the starting lineup after missing the last two games with a non-COVID-19 illness.

“Zep brings the fire on defense,” Flanigan said. “He’s going to get up in you and he’s going to play defense and move his feet. He’s going to lock down whoever he’s in front of on a given night.”

Both teams started off cold, with Auburn missing its first five shots and Texas A&M opening 0 for 7. Johnson’s fast-break layup at the buzzer gave Auburn a 33-18 halftime lead.


Texas A&M just managed to avoid its lowest scoring output of the season, 57 points against Butler on Nov. 23. Made just 7 of 39 shots in the first half (17.9%) and 19 of 70 (27.1% overall).

Auburn showed resilience in bouncing back from its first loss since November, an 80-76 overtime defeat.


Auburn football coach Bryan Harsin mingled with students in the stands during the game. He had plenty to celebrate a day after President Jay Gogue announced the coach would be retained following an investigation into the program after a number of player and staff departures.

“I’m really happy for coach Harsin, his family, his staff,” Pearl said. “And I look forward to working with him and his whole team to keep making Auburn the everything school it is. It’s good to get that behind us.”


Texas A&M hosts Florida on Tuesday night.

Auburn hosts Vanderbilt on Wednesday night.