Questions about Brandon Miller’s injury status take center stage in Alabama

Alabama freshman Brandon Miller, a potential First Team All-American and top NBA Draft prospect in college basketball, looked unlucky in the opening win of the NCAA Tournament against Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Miller had 19 scoreless minutes with five missed shots and three turnovers.
  • With just under 15 minutes left in the second half, Bama coach Nate Oats pulled Miller on a turnover and foul and kept the 6-foot-8 star out of the lineup the rest of the way. Oats said afterwards: “He has a groin injury that he has been tending to since Sunday.”
  • Miller’s absence didn’t matter much as top seed Alabama rolled to a 96-75 victory. But when it comes to The Tide’s national title goals, his stature is paramount.

What’s the latest news about Miller?

Oats met with reporters on Friday and said, “Knowing Brandon, knowing how tough he is mentally and physically, I think he’ll be ready to go.”

Miller was in uniform for team practice on Friday. “I’ll always tell you I’m 100 percent,” Miller said. “So I’m 100 percent.”

Speak against The athletic, When asked if there is any concern about how he will feel during the warm-ups for Saturday’s game and determining his status for a tip, Miller said: “No, I think starting today I can determine what I feel. This is how you prepare your body for a competition like this.”

Miller said the injury occurred during a move in the SEC title game against Texas A&M. He didn’t realize it then.

“I felt it a little bit after the game,” he said. “I think adrenaline took over during the game.”

The decision for Miller not to return in Thursday’s game was made by Oats, who told his star he would take him out early in the second half. Off court, Miller has also gained more attention in recent weeks for his alleged connection to a deadly Jan. 15 shooting involving former teammate Darius Miles, who was charged with capital murder. Miller is accompanied by an armed guard due to messages he received, Oats said ahead of the tournament.

As for Saturday against Maryland, “I hope he’s healthy enough to play, and based on how much work he and (head athletic coach Clarke Holter) put into it, I think he will be,” said Oats. “But (if Miller isn’t 100 percent), it will definitely limit us. Hurry up, he might be the best player in the country. It would be nice if we had him.”

Looking back at Miller’s play in Round 1

Miller clearly didn’t look like himself on Thursday. There were moments of hesitation and apparent discomfort. He missed a rabbit up close. He missed three deep heave 3’s that had no chance. He made one ball by dribbling too much at the top of the key and later threw a ball away.

It was a shocking change from what had been seen recently.

Miller was SEC tournament MVP, averaging 20.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists in three games at Nashville.

Can Maryland go with the tide?

Barring Maryland controlling the tempo, allowing 3s and Jahmir Young to deliver a kind of Kemba-esque performance, Miller’s stature somehow might not matter that much. Even if Miller wasn’t around at all, Alabama has size and talent advantages in almost every place. From Mark Sears to Jahvon Quinerly to Noah Clowney to Charles Bediako, the Tide can outnumber the Terps on one side and choke them on the other.

Is there a recipe that might work? Certainly. Judging by Alabama’s few losses this year, Maryland could potentially hang on if it puts the Tide into a dragged game with little possession and limits Alabama’s scoring early in the shot clock. That’s a tough question, anywhere. Alabama is the number 1 overall seed for a reason and this game is played in its backyard.

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(Photo: Marvin Gentry/USA Today)

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