The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Miller leads Alabama past Mississippi State in quarters
Brandon Miller had 18 points and nine rebounds, and No. 4 Alabama never trailed in posting a 72-49 victory over Mississippi State in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Friday.
The top-seeded Crimson Tide (27-5) set the pace in the first half, hitting 8 of 20 shots from long range. Charles Bediako and Noah Gurley added 11 points apiece for Alabama, and Jahvon Quinerly scored 10.
The Bulldogs (21-12) were scoreless in their first six possessions, including a pair of turnovers. They hit 8 of 31 field goal attempts and missed all five of their shots from 3-point range.
Tolu Smith led Mississippi State with 17 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Dashawn Davis scored 13 points.
Alabama led 41-21 at halftime, too big an advantage for Mississippi State to overcome, with the Crimson Tide opening up a 25-point lead with 1:14 left on a layup by Nimari Burnette on a fastbreak.
With 5:40 remaining, Mississippi State trimmed the Crimson Tide’s lead to 57-43 on a layup by D.J. Jeffries.
No. 1 Houston 60, East Carolina 46: Marcus Sasser scored 30 points, and top-ranked Houston got its 30th win of the season in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament.
The Cougars (30-2), a sure-bet No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, have back-to-back 30-win seasons for the first time since their Phi Slama Jama era.
Sasser, the AAC player of the year, was a starter on the 2021 Final Four team but missed the Cougars’ run to the NCAA Elite Eight last year because of a broken bone in his left foot.
Jamal Shead added 12 points for Houston, which won despite shooting a season-low 28.1% (16 of 57) from the field. J’wan Roberts, who was 0-for-5 shooting and didn’t get to the free throw line, had 12 rebounds.
East Carolina freshman forward Ezra Ausar had 18 points and a season-high 19 rebounds in his third double-double this season. The Pirates (16-17) had a season-low scoring total and shot 31.4% (16 of 51).
No. 5 Purdue 70, Rutgers 65: Mason Gillis had 20 points on 7-for-8 shooting, and No. 5 Purdue held off Rutgers in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.
With Zach Edey drawing his usual attention inside, the topseeded Boilermakers (27-5) got a big lift from Gillis and reserve guard David Jenkins Jr. Gillis grabbed nine rebounds.
The 7-foot-4 Edey finished with 16 points and 11 boards. The Big Ten Player of the Year averaged 21.9 points and 12.8 rebounds during the regular season.
Derek Simpson scored 18 points for Rutgers (19-14), which advanced with a 62-50 win against Michigan on Thursday. Cam Spencer had 13 points, and Clifford Omoruyi finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.