Alabama Basketball Gets Big Game From Sears, Burnett Against Jax State

Brandon Miller was the big story for basketball in Alabama on Friday night.

He should be. Twenty-eight points with a 7-for-9 night at the 3-point line along with eight rebounds deserve attention.

Jahvon Quinerly is another story arc worth mentioning. He didn’t burn the webs in the usual Quinerly manner, but his presence was felt. He dished out eight assists in 16 minutes with a couple of 3-pointers when he returned to the rotation in the final game of last season after suffering a cruciate ligament rupture.

Alabama’s 104-62 win over Jacksonville State had something more. Transfers Mark Sears and Nimari Burnett still have to get used to their new team, but were weak in attack and defence.

Sears scored 18 points with four 3-pointers and made some big defensive plays for one of his best games in an Alabama uniform.

“Everyone made the right plays tonight,” Sears said. “We make each other better and everyone shot well tonight.”

Burnett scored 18 points with five 3-pointers.

“Feels good,” Burnett said. “I’ve worked so hard over the last two or three years, so it feels good that that hard work is paying off.”

Miller and Quinerly are the obvious stars for Alabama. But Oats will need goals from the likes of Sears and Burnett this season, especially with Quinerly still slowly getting back into action.

Sears ran the Crimson Tide offensive in Quinerly’s absence. He scored 22 points against Liberty and his 18-point performance on Friday is his second-best night of the young season.

Alabama coach Nate Oats said there was a moment in the first half when Sears missed a defensive duty, resulting in a JSU-3 pointer, and he also made a careless turnover. Sears was doing well after getting some coaching.

“He’s a guy who’s coming to terms with the coaching and wants to get better,” Oats said. He made shots at a fairly high clip. I was happy to see him play so well.

Burnett’s 18 points is a season high.

“Nimari is a guy we don’t need to be the best offensive initiator,” Oats said of Burnett. “We need him to finish games, whether it’s driving a close-out or hitting a 3-pointer. He better outplays Quinerly, Jaden Bradley, Brandon Miller and those guys. You saw that tonight.”

There was a stretch in the second half as Sears and Burnett were on the court with Quinerly and Miller. The result was a 22:3 run.

“We moved the ball a lot better tonight,” Burnett said. “If you do that, the shooters will hit their shots.”

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