Alabama's Brandon Miller hits game-winner as role in fatal shooting lingers; coach Nate Oats apologizes for comments
Alabama star freshman Brandon Miller had a career night on Wednesday as questions and debate continued to swirl around his role in delivering a gun used in a fatal shooting.
In a game many believed he shouldn't be allowed to play, Miller scored a career-high 41 points on 14-of-25 shooting (6-of-13 from deep) with eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks in a 78-76 win over South Carolina in overtime.
That included a basket to tie the game at the end of regulation and send it to overtime, then a game-winner with 0.8 seconds left in OT.
Brandon Miller for the win. Wow. pic.twitter.com/YZInNGpVz1
— Mr Matthew CFB (@MrMatthewCFB) February 23, 2023
The performance came one day after it was reported Miller had delivered a gun to former Alabama teammate Darius Miles that police say was later used by another man, Michael Davis, to kill 23-year-old mother Jamea Harris in a late-night shooting in January.
Both Miles, who was quickly dismissed from Alabama, and Davis face capital murder charges. Miller, however, has not been charged with a crime, as Tuscaloosa chief assistant district attorney Paula Whitley said Tuesday "There’s nothing we could charge him with."
Miller's attorney released a statement earlier Wednesday saying, contrary to initial reports, Miller never saw the gun left by Miles in the backseat of his car nor handled it, but became aware of it when Miles requested he bring it after asking Miller to pick him up.
Alabama's leadership later decided Miller wouldn't be suspended or face any sanctions from the school either, allowing him to play Wednesday. Facing a hostile crowd in South Carolina and a supportive ESPN booth, Miller was booed pretty much every time he touched the ball and saw a chant of "Lock him up" at one point:
Truly a bizarre scene.
With South Carolina fans chanting "lock him up" Brandon Miller misses a free throw. Play is briefly stopped shortly after due to a fight in the stands, behind the same basket Miller was shooting to. pic.twitter.com/oAmXVrbDCF
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) February 23, 2023
Nate Oats apologizes for 'poor choice of words'
One of the main reasons Miller's story got so much traction was a news conference with Alabama head coach Nate Oats shortly after the news broke Tuesday, in which the coach diminished the situation by saying Miller was in the "wrong spot at the wrong time."
Oats found himself apologizing for that comment and more in a statement released Tuesday night, then apologized again while speaking with reporters after the game Wednesday:
"I'm not here to make excuses, but I want to make it clear I didn't have the details from the hearing that morning since I was coming straight from practice," Oats said. "I used a poor choice of words, making it appear I wasn't taking this tragic situation seriously, which we have throughout the course of it. I sincerely apologize for that."
This will not be the last time Miller and Oats address the shooting this season, especially with 24-4 Alabama on track for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.