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On Wednesday night, Alabama's Brandon Miller hit a game-winning shot with 0.8 seconds left in overtime to seal their win over South Carolina. He finished with an incredible 41 points on 14-of-25 shooting with eight rebounds and three steals in the victory.
Miller's victory on Friday capped off an eventful week, in which he faced intense scrutiny about his role in delivering the gun used to commit a fatal shooting last month. Despite all that scrutiny, he remained an active member of the Tide after university officials said hours before tipoff that they would keep him on the team.
As the SEC season gets underway, teams across the league are striving to win as many games as possible. Alabama remains the clear favorite to win the SEC, but it faces a formidable challenge when it travels down south to face SEC East rival South Carolina on Sunday.
The Gamecocks, who have only won three conference games this season, take a similarly defensive-minded approach as the Tigers. But they must make use of their depth in order to succeed on offense; they rely heavily on Ciaja Harbison - who averages 19 points per game and ranks third in SEC shooting percentage, assists and steals.
As such, the Gamecocks face a formidable opponent in Miller, one of the SEC's premier guards. Although Miller was recently linked to Jamaa Harris' murder last month, he will remain an active member of Alabama and scored 41 points in Wednesday's overtime win against South Carolina - including the go-ahead basket with 0.9 seconds left.
It was an impressive performance from the freshman, who started with an errant pass and missed two of his initial three three-pointers. But he found his groove and scored 11 of Alabama's 15 points in the second half to maintain their four-point advantage.
Though the Gamecocks had the edge in the first half, Alabama rallied with an impressive run to start the second and force overtime. Jackson sank a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, while Meechie Johnson added two more 3.
With just under one minute remaining in regulation, Miller hit a driving hoop to give Alabama an overwhelming 68-66 lead. The Tide had led by seven at the start of overtime but South Carolina went on a 9-4 run to take control with 14.3 seconds left to play.
At least for the first half, South Carolina fans booed him every time he touched the ball. Yet Miller refused to let this affect him or the team; he finished with a career-high 41 points and hit what proved to be game-winning shot in overtime. Additionally, while Tide's top four guards were 2-of-16 from three-point range, Miller went 4-for-9.
On Wednesday night, Alabama's Brandon Miller hit one of college basketball's iconic shots to help his team defeat South Carolina 78-76 in overtime. The freshman star scored a career-high 41 points - including a game-winning layup in the final second of extra time - in what many believed should not have been allowed to play after being connected to a fatal shooting earlier in January. It was an awe-inspiring performance for someone many believed should not be allowed on the court.
Since Tuesday, the Crimson Tide have been facing the dilemma of whether Miller should be allowed to play football. Tuscaloosa police investigator Brandon Culpepper testified that Miller brought Darius Miles' gun to an off-campus area last month where 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris was tragically shot and died. On Tuesday in court, both Miles and his friend Michael Davis were charged with capital murder in relation to Harris' death.
According to reports, Miles texted Miller asking him to bring the gun over to where Harris was later shot and killed. This text message was discovered by prosecutors after the shooting and is now part of their case against Miles and Davis.
Miles and Davis remain in jail on capital murder charges, prohibited from leaving Tuscaloosa while their cases are ongoing. But the story about Miller delivering the gun that shot Miles that ultimately killed Harris continues to grip national sports media.
"It is truly tragic that Brandon Miller has been accused of something he has not even done," Alabama coach Nate Oats said after the game. Nonetheless, his team was able to get back to work and is confident Miller will return for the remainder of the season.
Miller's legal team released a statement denying he saw the gun or was involved in the exchange with Miles or Davis. Additionally, they noted that Miller had already left to pick up Miles when he received the text message.
Following Wednesday's game, questions remain unanswered regarding the role Alabama star freshman Brandon Miller played in last month's fatal shooting in Tuscaloosa. It remains uncertain exactly what role Miller played, but it could have been an element in the death of 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris.
On Tuesday, law-enforcement testimony revealed that Miller brought Darius Miles' gun to Tuscaloosa on the night of Harris' death after Miles texted him and asked for it. This allegation came during a preliminary hearing for Miles and 20-year-old Michael Davis, who face capital murder charges in connection with the shooting.
According to Patch, Miles and Harris were involved in an exchange on The Strip, a business district of bars and restaurants near University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa. As reported by Patch, Tuscaloosa detective Branden Culpepper testified that Miles called Miller and requested him to bring the gun to the scene where it was ultimately used to fatally shoot Harris.
On their way to a restaurant, Miles placed his handgun in the back seat of Miller's vehicle. According to attorney Jim Standridge, Miller never saw nor handled it and never got out of his car or interacted with anyone in Harris' party.
Miller was not involved in the shooting and is expected to play for Alabama against South Carolina on Wednesday - their most crucial matchup of the season. Although authorities are working with them, Miller remains an active member of their program and is free from any legal issues, according to a statement released by University of Alabama on Wednesday afternoon.
Following Miller's role in this tragic shooting, many have expressed concerns about his continued participation on the Crimson Tide. Athletic director Greg Byrne revealed in a podcast released Wednesday that the decision to keep Miller was made collectively with Alabama president Stuart Bell's approval.
Concerns are raised by reports that Miller allegedly blocked in Harris' Jeep on Grace Street just before she died, leaving Harris sitting in the passenger seat of her vehicle. This poses a grave issue considering Harris was tragically lost while riding in that vehicle.
On Wednesday night, Alabama's freshman Brandon Miller hit a game-winning shot in the closing seconds to seal an epic 78-76 overtime win against South Carolina. But his role in a deadly shooting that claimed 23-year-old Mary Elizabeth last month remains under scrutiny. As SEC-leading Alabama (24-4, 14-1 SEC) took on South Carolina (78-76), national debate raged over whether Miller should have played after reports that he provided a gun to former teammate Darius Miles.
Although Alabama coach Nate Oats had already declared Miller would play against South Carolina, many in the national media called for him to sit out due to his involvement in the case. Despite police testimony Tuesday indicating Miller brought the gun to Miles, Oats has yet to publicly discipline or suspend him.
A Tuscaloosa detective testified that Miller brought the gun to Miles, who then passed it on to another individual suspected of involvement in Harris' killing. Culpepper further reported that Miller's car was near where Harris was reportedly shot by Michael Davis - suspected as being the gunman in this shooting.
Police have yet to charge Miller or suspend him, though Oats has acknowledged being aware of the gun incident when it occurred and not being part of any exchange with Davis or anyone else in Harris' party. Furthermore, he had no knowledge of Miles' text to Miller asking for the gun until hearing it during Tuesday's court hearing.
Oats was not immediately available for an interview, but he had previously addressed the situation on a podcast and stated that he wasn't aware of anything other than what had been written in the police report and believed Harris to have been at fault in some way or another.
Byrne then revealed that he believed Miller to be on his way to pick up Miles when the text came in, and that he was "already almost there" when it arrived. He thought Miller might bring along a gun but wasn't aware there was one in his car.