Bama Hoops Hype

RECAP: Sexton’s Buzzer Beater Sends Tide to Quarterfinals

Alabama Men's Basketball

Alabama needed a win on Thursday and Collin Sexton delivered.

The Crimson Tide’s star freshman dribbled the length of the court in four seconds before knocking down a floater at the buzzer to send his team to the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. Alabama knocked off the 8-seeded Texas A&M Aggies 71-70.

“We called the timeout and coach just told me to race it up the floor and get to the basket,” Sexton said after the game. “He knew how fast I could get there so he just said get to the basket and get a layup for us.”

Sexton’s last shot capped off his 18-point second half which included the team’s final six points in the last minute of the game. The SEC Co-Freshman of the Year finished with 27 points on the day, more than any other game against an SEC opponent this season.

He shot 9-for-16 from the field and made three 3-pointers for the first time since Alabama’s loss to Missouri. Sexton also had five assists, three rebounds and one steal in 33 minutes on the court.

Sexton was matched up with Texas A&M’s T.J. Starks for most of the game. The two were involved in an incident at the end of Saturday’s game in College Station. The officials called a Flagrant 1 on the Alabama guard in the first half of Thursday’s meeting for tripping Starks. The A&M star scored 23 points, including a 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds to go to give the Aggies a 70-69 lead.

But it was Sexton and Alabama that would come away with the last laugh.

The Crimson Tide led for a majority of the game but a late scoring drought gave the Aggies the opening they needed. Texas A&M used a 13-3 to tie the game with 1:16 to go. Sexton and Starks were the only two players to score after that and the buzzer-beating floater was the difference Alabama needed.

Sexton’s offense was the highlight of the night for the Crimson Tide but it was the team defense that kept the 9 seed in the lead. Texas A&M shot 39.3 percent from the field on Thursday and made just six of its 20 3-point attempts. Alabama forced the Aggies into 17 turnovers and Hebert Jones led the team with three steals.

Texas A&M used its own dose of defense to push back in the second half. SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year Robert Williams had six of his seven blocks in the final 20 minutes and almost had a chance to block Sexton’s final shot (which really makes it that much more impressive for Sexton).

The Aggies (20-12) finished the day with a plus-11 edge in the rebounding department. Alabama held Tyler Davis to single-digit scoring for the first time this season but the junior forward still finished with 10 rebounds despite dealing with foul trouble.

Donta Hall was kept in charge of the post for most of the game but his rebounding numbers continued to dip. He finished with just five rebounds and did not record a block for the second time in the last three games. Hall still posted 11 points in his 23 minutes on the court.

Freshman Galin Smith was added to the Tide’s starting lineup at the last minute. In his first career start, Smith scored 8 points and 3 rebounds – all three of which came in the opening four minutes.

Dazon Ingram scored 13 points and finished with a team-high nine rebounds. The Crimson Tide are now 9-1 this season when Ingram scores more than 10 points. The sophomore guard’s play was a big reason that Alabama’s season is still alive.

“We just knew our backs were up against the wall,” Ingram said in the postgame interview. “We wanted to come out, be aggressive and play off of each other. We knew that when we do that, we’re a special team.”

Alabama (18-14) has been moved back into the NCAA Tournament field by many experts but Avery Johnson’s team still has another game in front of it. The Crimson Tide will play the top-seeded Auburn Tigers on Friday. The game will be televised on ESPN and is scheduled to tip off at noon CT.

Caleb Turrentine is the editor for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Twitter for in-game updates at @BamaHoopsHype.

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