Published: Sat, March 17, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Wayne Curry

Alabama Basketball: Sexton and Petty Shoot Tide into the Second Round

Alabama Basketball: Sexton and Petty Shoot Tide into the Second Round

He held his stomach after a shot to the gut on a screen.

"I think he's the best guard in the country", Williams said. Many will be picking the Crimson Tide to pull off the No. 9 over No. 8 seed upset, but Virginia Tech won't be an easy team to beat.

Collin Sexton leads the Crimson Tide, averaging 19 points per game, into the NCAA tournament despite Alabama's struggles down the stretch.

Southern finally ran out of answers in the fourth quarter of their first-round Women's NIT game, and Alabama ran away for a 69-56 victory at Coleman Coliseum.

But defense became this team's identity late in the season, and it was part of their downfall at PPG Paints Arena.

For Alabama, Collin Sexton will be the center of the offense. He also had six assists and five turnovers. To their credit, they were probably thinking the same thing about the Tide. But that one-point win over the Cavaliers on February 10 wasn't the only important win on the Hokies' résumé.

The Hokies were led by their point guard as well, Justin Robinson.

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Williams had tinkered with his team's defensive approach after giving up 84 points to Miami in a loss February 3, and it paid off with low-scoring wins over Clemson, Virginia and Duke over the final month of the season.

Hall finished with 10 points and three rebounds in 25 minutes, but it was the play of Sexton and Petty that pushed the Crimson Tide into the round of 32.

Hokies senior guard, Devin Wilson is a Pittsburgh product, who was one of the most decorated high school athletes to come out of the Steel City. Alabama shot an impressive 59.3 percent from the field (16-of-27), but Virginia Tech's 7-of-9 performance from beyond the arc and 68 percent shooting from the floor (17-of-25) gave the Hokies the 43-41 lead at halftime. Petty, mired in a serious slump near the end of the regular season, finished with 20 points while making six of eight 3-pointers, including three in the first half to help the Crimson Tide hang around until Sexton got going. Youth leadership is the story with this team, as four freshmen and one sophomore started in Alabama's SEC Tournament loss to Kentucky. But Sexton made a jumper to extend the lead to 77-72 with 1:28 left. Second year I got to the NIT.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies are on the rise in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but success in March remains elusive. Tech coach Buzz Williams did not like the call and was whistled for a technical foul.

They were considered two linchpin figures in a loaded freshman class that was destined to return Alabama to the NCAA Tournament. For Williams and the Hokies, it wasn't. Just as it is often tough to differentiate between teams seeded right in the middle, this NCAA Tournament field has an unusually large number of teams poised to make a deep run and another large group talented enough to prevent that effort.

"The higher you go, the altitude changes". "We need to continue to get reps at that". The Wildcats lost in the first weekend as a 1 or 2 seed in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

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