TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Brandon Miller scored 24 points and Mark Sears made 7 of 8 free throws over the final 1:04 to help No. 2 Alabama secure an 86-83 victory over Arkansas on Saturday,
Fellow freshman Nick Smith Jr. of Arkansas (19-10, 8-8), another potential NBA draft lottery pick who helped keep the Razorbacks in it with a late 3-pointer, scored 24 points.
Miller helped key a 15-0 run for Alabama by scoring six straight points and eight total for a 56-46 lead midway through the second half — just the second lead of the game for the Tide. Arkansas missed eight straight shots and four consecutive free throws during that span after leading most of the way.
The Razorbacks surged back, and Smith made a 3 with 10 seconds left to make it 85-83. Rylan Griffen made the second of two free throws and Ricky Council IV’s potential tying 3 attempt bounced off the rim.
Davonte Davis had 21 points for Arkansas, Council scored 20, and the rest of the team combined for 18 points.
Miller, who scored 41 against South Carolina on Wednesday, missed his first five 3-point attempts while the team got off to a 1-for-20 start. He finally hit one with three minutes left.
Jahvon Quinerly had 16 points and seven assists for the Tide. Noah Clowney produced 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Miller received a warmer reception at home than in South Carolina, where he heard chants of “lock him up” and “guilty” a day after testimony about the gun, which was Miles’ gun and allegedly used by another man in the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Jamea Harris on Jan. 15.
Miller hasn’t been accused of or charged with any crime — or missed any playing time. Miller’s attorney said Miller never handled the gun and that it had been left in his back seat.
Police also said another Alabama player, guard Jaden Bradley, was at the scene. He started Saturday’s game and did not score.
The Razorbacks used a 9-0 run followed by Smith’s baseline jumper with 6 seconds left to take a 37-28 halftime lead. It was the Tide’s lowest scoring first half since trailing No. 1 Houston 31-27 on Dec. 10 before rallying to win.
Arkansas: Once a top 10 team, the Razorbacks couldn’t pull off a third straight win. Arkansas kept it much closer than the earlier 84-69 Alabama win when Smith was out with a knee injury.
Alabama: Dominated the boards in the second half 26-14 after both teams collected 22 rebounds in the first. Made 3 of 22 3-pointers (14%).
A total of 34 representatives from 18 NBA teams were issued credentials for the showdown between Miller and Smith, who are arguably the two top prospects from the college ranks.
Arkansas visits No. 11 Tennessee on Tuesday night.
Alabama hosts in-state rival Auburn on Wednesday night.
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