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

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Vanderbilt center Liam Robbins out for the season with leg injury

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt announced on social media that scoring leader Liam Robbins will miss the rest of the season with a leg injury sustained early in a 68-66 victory at No. 23 Kentucky.

The school wished the 7-footer a speedy recovery on its Twitter account and added, “On the court, Liam has represented himself and Vanderbilt in a first-class manner.”

The fifth-year senior left the game after just four minutes after going up for a rebound and landing awkwardly.

Commodores coach Jerry Stackhouse said on 102.5 The Game’s Chase & Michelle Show that Robbins underwent surgery to repair a fracture in his lower leg.

Robbins led the surging Commodores (17-13, 10-7 Southeastern Conference) with 15.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game along with a conference-best 82 blocks in 26 games. His 3.2 blocks per contest rank third nationally.

“Liam has been unbelievable for us this year,” the coach said on the show. “He’s gotten better and better since he’s been here. He’s battled with some injuries before that, but when he’s playing at a high level, it elevated our team to a high level, gave our whole team a lot of confidence.”

The former Drake and Minnesota player averaged 22.0 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game last month and helped Vanderbilt go 6-1, its best February since 2008.

Vanderbilt stuns No. 6 Tennessee on Lawrence’s buzzer-beating 3

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Vanderbilt Commodores and coach Jerry Stackhouse finally experienced the thrill of a big upset inside the Southeastern Conference’s oldest gym.

The Commodores had struggled for so long with crowds dwindling that the old Memorial Gym magic seemed gone.

Not Wednesday night.

Tyrin Lawrence knocked down a 3-pointer from the right corner at the buzzer as the Commodores snapped an 11-game skid against its in-state rival by upsetting sixth-ranked Tennessee 66-65 Wednesday night.

Stackhouse called Lawrence’s shot the biggest of his tenure and maybe his favorite spanning both his own playing career in the NBA and now coaching career.

“We finally experienced it, the Memorial Magic we were looking for,” Stackhouse said. “Unbelievable game, unbelievable effort. Guys never quit. Didn’t look great there for a minute, but we just kept battling.”

Students rushed the court and joined the Commodores in celebrating easily the program’s biggest win in nearly 11 years. Then the Commodores (12-12, 5-6) celebrated by running along the courtside slapping high-fives.

Tennessee (19-5, 8-2) had every chance to finish off the win after Olivier Nkamhoua’s 15-foot jumper with 50 seconds left put the Vols up 65-63 lead. Liam Robbins missed a turnaround jumper with 27 seconds for Vanderbilt, and Zakai Zeigler grabbed the rebound.

Vols freshman Julian Phillips had a chance to dunk in the final seconds but kept dribbling to force another Vanderbilt foul.

“I am not sure what was going through his head there,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “I don’t think he will ever make that mistake again.”

Vanderbilt had to foul five times to finally send Santiago Vescovi to the line with 8 seconds left.

He missed the first shot, and Lawrence grabbed the rebound. Stackhouse took a timeout with 4 seconds to go to set up the final play, and Ezra Manjon drove to the basket before passing out to Lawrence in the corner for the winning bucket.

“It felt great,” said Lawrence, who Stackhouse benched for an ugly loss to No. 4 Alabama last week. “It’s the stuff we dream about as kids just in the back yard counting down `3, 2, 1.’ Glad I was able to hit the game winner.”

Lawrence finished with a team-high 19 points. Robbins added 14 and nine rebounds, and Jordan Wright had 12.

Vescovi and Tyreke Key each had 14 to lead Tennessee. Olivier Nkamhoua and Julian Phillips added 10 apiece.

Tennessee led 34-32 at halftime setting up a thrilling finish in a game that featured 15 lead changes and nine ties.


Tennessee was shooting well over 55% before hitting the kind of scoring drought that usually plagues the Vols in their losses. The Vols went 4:27 without a bucket as Vandy scored six straight to stay close. The nation’s best 3-point defense, which had been holding opponents to 21.9% shooting outside the arc, also gave up a season-high 10 3s with Lawrence’s game-winner the last.

Vanderbilt improved to 100-259 all-time against Top 25 opponents, and the Commodores improved to 2-3 this season. They now are 4-16 against ranked opponents under Stackhouse. … Lawrence’s game-winning shot was Vandy’s first made bucket since the 3:44 mark.


The road is turning into a challenging issue for the Volunteers with a second straight loss away from home, and this won’t help them stay in the Top 10.


Stackhouse tapped a play used by Dwane Casey when the Vandy coach worked with him in the NBA in Toronto. Stackhouse added some wrinkles with Manjon driving toward the basket where the Vols collapsed on him before whipping the pass down the baseline to Lawrence.

While everyone celebrated the shot, Stackhouse asked the scorekeeper if it counted. They didn’t know.

“Then (official) Tony Greene came over and he said it was good. `We’re gonna look at it, but it was good.’ I can’t contain myself. I hugged Tony Greene,” Stackhouse said with a big smile.


Tennessee hosts Missouri on Saturday night.

Vanderbilt visits Florida.

No. 23 Florida rallies, edges Vandy women at SEC tourney

Mark Zaleski/ For The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nina Rickards hit two free throws with 8.2 seconds left, and No. 23 Florida rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat Vanderbilt 53-52 Thursday afternoon in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament.

The Gators (21-9) snapped a three-game skid and now will play No. 4 seed Mississippi on Friday in the quarterfinals.

Florida came in seeded fifth, its highest since 2016. The Gators seemed headed for a quick exit until the fourth quarter when they turned in a furious 20-8 rally. Their one and only lead of the game came on Rickards’ first trip to the line.

Vanderbilt (14-18) scored the first 12 points of the game and led by as much as 14 late in the third quarter looking for a second straight victory at a tournament where they hadn’t won even once since 2016.

Sacha Washington missed both free throws with a chance to pad Vanderbilt’s lead with 11.9 seconds remaining. After Rickards’ free throws, Jordyn Merritt blocked Vanderbilt guard Iyana Moore’s layup. The Gators started celebrating before officials sent them to the bench for a review.

The officials added 0.4 to the clock, and Florida guard Jeriah Warren got a hand on the inbound pass to seal the Gators’ comeback.

Rickards finished with 15 points for Florida, and Zippy Broughton added 14.

Brinae Alexander led Vanderbilt with 18 points. Moore added with 16. Jordyn Cambridge went 1-of-11 and finished with four points after turning in the first triple-double in program history in Wednesday’s tourney opener.

Vanderbilt led 16-12 at the end of the first quarter. Florida tied it only once at 18 on a layup by Merritt with 5:44 left in the second quarter, but the Commodores led 31-22 at halftime. The Commodores led 44-33 after the third quarter.

Quinerly leads No. 24 Alabama to 74-72 win over Vanderbilt

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jahvon Quinerly got the message Alabama coach Nate Oats sent by bringing the junior guard off the bench.

Quinerly responded, scoring 17 of his 19 points after halftime to help the 24th-ranked Crimson Tide rally from a nine-point deficit in the first half and hold off Vanderbilt 74-72 Tuesday night.

“I was just trying to be aggressive even though shots aren’t really falling for me,” Quinerly said. “I was just trying to stay aggressive and be engaged and bring as much positive energy to the team as I could.”

Oats said the team challenged Quinerly to be better on defense and play harder, knowing the Tide won’t win big games without that.

“He definitely answered the challenge,” Oats said.

Alabama (18-10, 8-7 Southeastern Conference) has won four of five, and the Crimson Tide had to shake off a cold-shooting first half in which they trailed 37-28 with 90 seconds left. They also had to hold on at the free-throw line late after missing seven of their final eight shots from the field.

Quinerly got the Tide going with his big second-half performance and hit two free throws with 28.4 seconds left for a 73-70 lead.

Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse noted Quinerly made some big shots, including some 3s a couple of feet beyond the 3-point line.

“He’s a very capable shooter, a shooter who hadn’t been shooting that well, but what’s new?” Stackhouse said. “Guys that hadn’t been shooting that well find a way to shoot it a little bit better than they normally do against us.”

Scotty Pippen Jr., the SEC’s leading scorer, made 10 of 12 at the foul line in the final 3:49 to help pull Vanderbilt to 71-70. But his second attempt missed with a chance to tie it with 46.1 seconds left. Vanderbilt also had a final opportunity to tie or win, but Jordan Wright’s layup rolled over the rim with 4.8 seconds to go.

“They just played harder than us,” Pippen said.

Vanderbilt (14-13, 6-9) had its four-game winning streak at Memorial Gym snapped and has lost three of the last four – all to Top 25 teams.

Pippen finished with 26 points despite not scoring in the second half until a free throw with 3:49 left. Liam Robbins had 16 points.

Noah Gurley added 11 points for Alabama, and JD Davison and Keon Ellis each had 10.

Quinerly keyed an 11-3 run with a pair of 3-pointers, and Gurley’s three-point play with 12:53 left gave Alabama a 46-45 lead that was its first since 5-4 in the opening minutes. After Robbins’ back-to-back jumpers pulled Vandy to 55-53, Quinerly hit a driving layup, a deep 3 and another layup for Alabama’s biggest lead at 64-53.

Vanderbilt led 37-32 at halftime.


Alabama: The Tide outrebounded Vanderbilt 41-37. Their big boost came at the free-throw line, even though Vandy made more trips. A team that normally shoots 72.1% at the line made 88% (22 of 25).

“Everybody wants to complain about Alabama free-throw shooting,” Oats said. “But shoot, we don’t win this game without every last free throw. We needed them tonight.”

Vanderbilt: The Commodores’ sticky defense paid off with a 32-18 scoring edge off turnovers, with 12 of Alabama’s turnovers coming on steals. … Vanderbilt went 27 of 36 at the foul line. Pippen was 14 for 18.

“We gave ourselves a chance to win the game,” Stackhouse said. “In the end, we need to execute a little bit better.”


The series has been very tight no matter the rankings or records. This was the 18th of the last 19 games decided by 10 or fewer points and 11th decided by five or less. Alabama has won 10 during that stretch.


Alabama has played one of the toughest schedules in the nation, with a 5-4 record against Top 25 teams.


Alabama starts a two-game homestand Saturday against South Carolina.

Vanderbilt visits Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon.

Scotty Pippen Jr. withdraws from draft, returning to Vandy

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Scotty Pippen Jr. has decided to return to Vanderbilt for his junior season after testing his options for the NBA draft.

Vanderbilt announced Wednesday night that Pippen will return for the upcoming season. Pippen announced in April he would test his draft status and not sign with an agent.

Pippen, who started 53 of his first 54 games played, was All-Southeastern Conference and ranked second in the league scoring an average of 20.8 points a game. That set a school scoring record for sophomores and also ranked as the seventh-highest scoring season in program history.

He also had the ninth-most assists per game in school history last season averaging 4.9 per game. Pippen was third in the SEC and ninth nationally making 142 free throws and second in t he SEC averaging 1.77 steals a game. He set an SEC Tournament record for most made free throws without a miss in a single tournament making all 25 over two games.

Pippen will join graduate transfers Liam Robbins from Minnesota and Dayton’s Rodney Chatman along with four-star recruits Gabe Dorsey and Peyton Daniels.