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Second-Half Surge Propels Alabama Basketball Past Miami, 96-64

The Crimson Tide shot 54-percent from the floor and 53-percent from beyond the arc to power its way through the Hurricanes.

With its best offensive half of the season thus far, No. 10 Alabama basketball closed out the ESPN Events Invitational with a win on Sunday, defeating Miami 96-64 to finish fifth in the tournament at the Disney Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla.

After a tight first half with the Hurricanes, the Crimson Tide surged in the second half and finished the game shooting 54-percent from the floor, including 16-of-30 from beyond the arc.

"I thought our second half was as good of basketball as we've played all year," Alabama coach Nate Oats said. "It's good to get that half under our belt before we head to Seattle so we can play pretty well there."

It was a slow start for the Crimson Tide as it committed three turnovers in the first three minutes of play. The turnovers helped Miami keep pace with Alabama, and at the 9:45 mark, the score was 16-14 in favor of the Crimson Tide.

Over the next four minutes, the Hurricanes conducted a 13-2 run to jump out to a 27-18 lead. However, the Crimson Tide responded with a run of its own following a technical foul called on Oats for his over-enthusiasm on the Alabama bench.

After an Alabama timeout to form a plan with six seconds remaining in the first half, Jahvon Quinerly drained a three as the buzzer sounded to put an exclamation point on the end of an 15-3 run. The points put the Crimson Tide ahead 33-30 and gave the team momentum as it headed into the locker room.

At the break, freshman guard J.D. Davison led the Crimson Tide with eight points. A solid first half, Davison was 4-of-5 from the floor and also recorded three rebounds and two assists.

Alabama opened the second half with seven points in the opening 90 seconds, forcing Miami to call a timeout and regroup. The timeout seemed to work, as the Hurricanes stormed back to score four unanswered to pull within six. However, the scoring didn't slow down Alabama on its offensive end of the court.

At the under-12 media timeout, the Crimson Tide had scored 16 of the game's last 20 points and had pulled out to a 56-38 lead.

At the 10:51 mark of the second half, Miami called its final timeout for no other reason than to once again attempt to slow down Alabama. A minute later, two free throws by the Hurricanes finally ended the Crimson Tide's scoring streak at 17 points.

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Miami was unable to climb out of its deficit, and Alabama walked away with the 96-64 win.

"Once you're just playing the right way, I feel like it could have been anybody else but it just happened to be me to be the one in the spots to knock down the shots," said guard Keon Ellis, who led Alabama with 22 points. "Just trying to help my teammates. They give me a good look and I just try to help them by making it."

After struggling to find its rhythm in Orlando, the Crimson Tide seemed to finally find its footing. In total, Alabama shot 54-percent from the floor, including 53-percent from beyond the arc. From the free-throw line, the Crimson Tide made six of its 11 attempts.

In total, four Alabama players finished with double-digit points, led by Ellis' 22. Shackelford finished the game with 15 points, while Davison and Juwan Gary each recorded 13. Additionally, Davison added 10 assists to his total to record his first career double-double.

"I just felt like we moved the ball a whole lot and kept the defense shifting," Davison said. "And I just found the right guy. Seeing my teammates make shots, everything was just going well for us."

Freshman center Charles Bediako led the team in rebounds with eight. Davison finished second with six — just four rebounds shy of a triple-double. One key note from Sunday's win was that out of the 14 players utilized by the Crimson Tide, 11 of them recorded at least one rebound.

With the win, Alabama moves to 6-1 to start the season and closes the ESPN Events Invitational with a 2-1 record along with a fifth-place finish. Miami falls to 4-3 and leaves Orlando with a 1-2 tournament record.

Alabama will now see the next five days pass by without a game as it prepares for a road trip to Seattle to face No. 1 Gonzaga. Oats is hopeful that the momentum from Sunday's game against Miami will stay with the team as it heads towards its biggest non-conference game of the season.

"If you could maintain momentum six days later, that'd be great," Oats chuckled. "What you do is you learn from it. Why did we play so well in the second half? I really, truly believe — and I think our players are starting to realize it — when you just lose yourself in the game, and all you care about it whatever it takes to help us win and you're playing really hard and there's no ulterior motives — 'I need to get this number of shots' — and all that's out the window and you're just playing hard [and] playing to win, it goes well.

"If we can maintain the mindset, maybe we can contain some of that momentum."

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