No. 2 Alabama Routs No. 10 Maryland to Advance in 2021 NCAA Men's Tournament

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2021

Alabama's Herbert Jones (1) Alabama's Jordan Bruner (2) celebrate a teammate's score against Maryland during the second half of a college basketball game in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis Monday, March 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Life is Sweet again for the Alabama Crimson Tide men's basketball team.

The No. 2 seed in the East Region defeated the No. 10 Maryland Terrapins 96-77 in Monday's second-round clash of the 2021 NCAA tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Jaden Shackelford, Jahvon Quinerly and John Petty Jr. led the way for the Crimson Tide, who clinched their first spot in the Sweet 16 since 2004.

An impressive showing from Aaron Wiggins was not enough for the Terrapins, who have not advanced to the second weekend of the Big Dance since 2016.


Notable Player Stats

  • Jaden Shackelford, G, ALA: 21 PTS, 3 AST, 3 REB, 5-of-8 3PT
  • John Petty Jr., G, ALA: 20 PTS, 6 REB, 4-of-9 3PT
  • Jahvon Quinerly, G, ALA: 14 PTS, 11 AST, 5 REB
  • Aaron Wiggins, G, MD: 27 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 5-of-8 3PT
  • Eric Ayala, G, MD: 13 PTS, 6 REB


3-Pointers, Offensive Rebounding Carry Alabama to Dominant Win

The path for a deep tournament run from the Crimson Tide opened up when Abilene Christian stunned Texas in the first round, but they also have the defense to cut down the nets.

That defense, which checks in at No. 2 in the country in KenPom.com's rankings, played a secondary role in the early going, though, as Alex Reese, Joshua Primo and Quinerly provided a spark off the bench as the Alabama offense staked the SEC representative to a commanding double-digit lead in the first half.

While Shackelford found his stroke from deep and Herbert Jones battled for boards, that Reese and Primo found openings and Quinerly facilitated in their minutes left the Terps in comeback mode throughout much of the contest.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Jaden Shackelford back-to-back threes ♨️ Bama is raining buckets on Maryland https://t.co/1dYkRZpggy

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Bama making it rain and the bench LOVES it ☔️ @AlabamaMBB #MarchMadness https://t.co/RWBr8UxBMc

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

John Petty is FEELING it ♨️ @AlabamaMBB #MarchMadness https://t.co/mixlzKpYqY

Alabama Men’s Basketball @AlabamaMBB

Shack with back-to-back 👌's | 14-0 RUN 🏃‍♂️ Alabama 65, Maryland 42 | 14:46 2nd H #RollTide | #BlueCollarBasketball https://t.co/ReO9w7rlF1

Intermission did nothing to cool off the Crimson Tide, as Petty Jr. and then Shackelford rained in triples right out of the gates in the second half to push the advantage to more than 20.

It was more of the same for an Alabama squad that broke an SEC record with 23 made three-pointers in a win over LSU. That type of shooting buried a Maryland squad that is largely built on defense and doesn't have the firepower to overcome significant deficits against high-quality opponents.

The 16 three-pointers alone likely would have been enough to handle Maryland, but Alabama also controlled the glass with a 40-19 rebounding advantage. Fifteen of those rebounds came on the offensive side, which just gave the shooters more opportunity to continue draining from the outside.

A formula of red-hot shooting and dominance on the offensive glass should carry the Crimson Tide far, especially with Texas eliminated from the bracket and the top-seeded Michigan Wolverines playing at less than 100 percent.


Maryland's Typically Strong Defense Goes Missing

Perhaps Maryland entered play living on borrowed time after upsetting UConn in the first round, but the blueprint for another victory was apparent during that first one.

After all, the Terrapins held the Huskies to 54 points in that game while Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Darryl Morsell helped shadow James Bouknight while holding the star to just 6-of-16 shooting from the field. Repeating a similar defensive showing figured to be the clearest path to the Sweet 16.

So much for that.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport


Maryland Basketball 🐢 @TerrapinHoops

Respect, Wiggs. Wow. Career-high 27. https://t.co/UbaxAuGjuw

Maryland On BTN @MarylandOnBTN

AIR WIGGINS ✈️ @TerrapinHoops is hunting a Sweet 16 berth. (📽: @marchmadness) https://t.co/MZRpE85ky2

Alabama poured in 46 points in the first half alone with red-hot outside shooting against the typically strong Maryland defense. Instead, it was offense from Wiggins and Eric Ayala that kept the Terrapins within striking distance and helped partially make up for their defensive struggles.

Ayala and Wiggins especially could only do so much, though, to counter the Crimson Tide's overall dominance on the offensive end. Wiggins continued to carry the offense for extended stretches, but the deficit was far too much to climb out of even with a dominant individual showing.

Maryland made its living on defense for much of the season, but it had no answers for Alabama on that side of the ball Monday. The result was the end of an inconsistent season, although the Terps can at least brag to some of their fellow Big Ten teams that they made the second round.


What's Next?

The Crimson Tide will face the No. 11 UCLA Bruins in a Sweet 16 showdown in the East Region next weekend.