April 15, 2024

Men’s NCAA Tournament 2024: Saturday’s Elite Eight Winners and Losers | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 30: Jarin Stevenson #15 of the Alabama Crimson Tide handles the ball against PJ Hall #24 of the Clemson Tigers during the first half in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Crypto.com Arena on March 30, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Harry How/Getty Images

For a team to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament, it sometimes takes a big performance from an unexpected source.

Jarin Stevenson was that guy for the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday night.

The freshman was the highest-rated player in Alabama’s most recent recruiting haul, checking in as the No. 50 overall prospect in the 2023 class and a 4-star talent, but he didn’t make the same immediate impact as some of the nation’s other notable freshmen.

The 6’11” forward averaged 16.5 minutes and tallied 5.0 points and 2.7 rebounds per game while hitting 27 three-pointers at a 29.0 percent clip, serving as little more than a decent role player off the bench.

After scoring a combined nine points over the first three games of the NCAA tournament, including 15 scoreless minutes against North Carolina in the Sweet 16, he put together a game-changing night against Clemson.

Stevenson scored a season-high 19 points on 7-of-11 from the floor and 5-of-8 from three-point range, helping to spark the Alabama offense early on before leading scorer Mark Sears caught fire down the stretch. He also tallied a pair of blocks and helped solidify the Alabama defense on the interior.

No one was surprised to see Sears finish with a team-high 23 points while knocking down several clutch threes down the stretch, but the game that Stevenson put together was a true difference-maker that helped vault Alabama to its first ever Final Four appearance.

Can the Tide slow down the UConn juggernaut?