By the Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Jaden Shackelford and Alabama stuck with what got them to the NCAA Tournament, torching Maryland with 3-point shooting in a 96-77 second-round rout on Monday night.
Shackelford scored 21 points and made five of Alabama’s 16 3-pointers as the second-seeded Crimson Tide advanced to their first Sweet 16 since 2004. Nate Oats, the second-year coach who made Buffalo a must-watch team before moving up to the Southeastern Conference, will bring his high-energy style to a regional semifinal for the first time.
That’s hardly a coaching resume to rival Nick Saban’s, but Oats is building a hoops culture in football-mad Tuscaloosa.
After trailing early, the nation’s top 3-point shooting team quickly heated up to overwhelm the 10th-seeded Terrapins. Alabama next faces 11th-seeded UCLA in the East Region.
Aaron Wiggins scored 27 points and Eric Ayala had 13 for Maryland (17-14), which was seeking its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2015 and 15th overall. The Terps’ loss left Michigan as the only Big Ten team to survive the opening weekend after the conference earned nine NCAA bids.
John Petty Jr. broke out of a slump to score 20 points with 4 3s for the Crimson Tide, and reserve Jahvon Quinerly added 14 points.
Alabama made just 5 of 16 from deep in a first-round win over 15th-seeded Iona. The Crimson Tide already had eight 3s by halftime against Maryland to lead 46-38. The advantage quickly surged past 20 points as Alabama made five in a row from long range.
The Crimson Tide finished 16 of 33 (48.5%) beyond the arc and shot 53% overall.
Oats, a former high school coach and math teacher, walked off the floor with his team to plenty of cheers from crimson-clad fans who traveled to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to watch the 3-for-all.
Maryland: The Terps were outmatched by Alabama’s quickness and perimeter proficiency. They shot 53% and made 10 of 27 3-point attempts but still couldn’t rally in the second half.
Alabama: Getting Joshua Primo (10 points) back from a three-game absence with a knee injury no doubt helped the Tide feel whole offensively. Petty’s rebound from a recent slump was also a plus for a team that looks like a Final Four contender.