NCAA TOURNAMENT: Sexton, Petty lead Alabama by Virginia Tech 86-83
17 March, 2018, 02:06 | Author: Elena Summers
The Crimson Tide's victory came almost a dozen years to the day of its last tournament win when Mark Gottfried's Alabama team knocked off Marquette 90-85 on March 16, 2006 before getting upended by UCLA in the second round that season.
Of course, the Crimson Tide's first NCAA Tournament victory in a dozen years didn't come easy, especially not in a first half when both Alabama and Virginia Tech were on fire from the floor. It marks Alabama's first win in the NCAA Tournament since 2006.
John Petty kept ninth-seeded Alabama (20-15) in it while Sexton struggled during a sluggish opening half and finished with 20 points while shooting 6 of 8 on 3-pointers. Hall missed the semifinal loss to Kentucky on Saturday, but Johnson says the 6-10 junior is in concussion protocol and he's optimistic he'll have the team's second-leading scorer (10.9 points per game) and top rebounder (6.8) and shot-blocker (2.1) against the Hokies.
A No. 1 seed from the Big East meets a sub-.500 team from the SEC when Villanova goes against Alabama in an NCAA tournament round-of-32 game Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh.
Alabama found its scoring success with a much-more balanced scoring assault that involved seven different players with at least 6 points.
Alabamaranks 108th in rebounds per game (36.3) while Virginia Tech ranks 256th (33.2).
The Hokies, on the other hand, took down North Carolina, Virginia, Duke and Clemson this season, proving that they can hang with the big dogs.
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In a game that remained close for the entire 40 minutes, Alabamacame away the victor.
MUST-SEE MATCHUP: It's the battle of the star point guards when Villanova's Jalen Brunson faces Alabama'sCollin Sexton. "(Devin) finished in last place as a freshman, he finished in last place as a sophomore, and then to be able to play in the NCAA Tournament, in essence, at his home, I think that's really cool", Williams said. Virginia Tech led 15-12 after less than five minutes on a 3-pointer by Alexander-Walker, one of seven 3-pointers the Hokies hit in the half.
In-state foes like the Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies and the Radford Highlanders are all dancing in this year's march madness. But the eighth-seeded Badgers beat the ninth-seeded Hokies 84-74 a year ago. He was just 1-for-4 in the first half for three points, but roared back in the second half to finish with a game-high 25 points.
This was one of the best all-around games for the Tide, who should look to build on it. From there, Alabama would knock down 9-of-11 free throws to seal the win. He uses up about one in three Alabama possessions when he's on the court, which is one of the highest usage rates in the country.
The Hokies were led by their point guard as well, Justin Robinson. That allowed Sexton and Alabama to settle themselves. If one team has been more consistent, it's the Hokies who are 8-5 in their past 13 after a 2-4 start to ACC play while also going 3-2 in their final 5 regular season games.
As a team, Alabama is top five in the SEC in both attempts (778, fourth) and made FTs (523, fifth).
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