Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Alabama keeps NCAA hopes alive with buzzer beater in SEC tournament

Wenyen Gabriel hit seven 3-pointers and scored 23 points to lead Kentucky to an 86-63 win over Alabama in the SEC semifinals Saturday Alabama keeps NCAA hopes alive with buzzer beater in SEC tournament
Eugene Bates | 10 March, 2018, 01:54

They'll take the court again either Thursday or Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and while their play Friday against Alabama wasn't promising - the Tigers had their lowest point total of the year and suffered its worst loss of the season - they don't seem concerned about that bleeding over into March Madness. That was the start of a three-part challenge that Sexton took upon himself to answer.

"We didn't play our best game at Auburn - and Herb Jones makes a difference for us", Johnson said.

After Sexton hit the second of his three-straight 3-pointers coming out of the half, it was clear he was not going to be stopped.

"It's going to be a big one", Tide guard Dazon Ingram said. Sexton and the Tide will face Auburn on Friday.

"The main thing was we wanted to get him space", Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. "They understand that there are not a lot of chances left, no matter how far you go ..." The No. 8 seed Aggies led by as many as seven points early in the first half, but Alabama surged ahead in to take a 35-28 halftime lead - only to need Sexton's last-second shot to hold on for the win.

"We called timeout to get organized", Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. The Mableton, Ga., native surpassed former great James "Hollywood" Robinson's rookie scoring record of 554 points set in the 1990-91 season.

And then the Crimson Tide dropped the hammer so hard on the Tigers in the second half that it reduced Bruce Pearl to exhausted clich├ęs and postgame peacocking on an Alabama strength coach.

Top-seeded Auburn very almost got another shot at Texas A&M.

For Auburn, a victory against the Tide probably won't improve their tournament seeding. It will be up to the selection committee to decide whether the Tide having a larger collection of marquee wins than most bubble teams outweighs also having more losses. Defensively, Auburn basketball yields 73.1 points per game against the opposing teams.

Alabama beat Texas A&M by only 1 in Thursday's game at Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO, 71-70. ESPN's Joe Lunardi still has the Aggies listed as a 7-seed in the tournament but there are bound to be ample changes to the projected bracket with conference tournaments underway.

Macon is Arkansas's second-leading scorer, averaging 17 points per game (behind Jaylen Barford's 17.9 points per game).

"We just didn't have it in the second half", Pearl said. "The key is to be able to utilize his ability without it taking away from the team aspect, and he's in pretty good rhythm right now".

"We did a poor job of fouling", Robertson said.

Jontay Porter led Missouri (20-12) with 20 points and eight rebounds. When Sexton's 3-point shot is falling, he becomes close to unguardable.

Teshaun Hightower came up big off the bench for Georgia, matching his career high of 13 points.

Up next, the Crimson Tide will face the victor of No. 4-seed Kentucky and No. 12-seed Georgia. But with nine seconds to play, Mississippi State inbounded the ball, avoided foul attempts and escaped with victory after Nick Weatherspoon's dunk. The Crimson Tide outshot the Aggies 48 percent to 39 percent which ultimately proved to be the difference in the game. "The third and fourth games, that's when sometimes the fatigue can be an issue". Kentucky won the lone encounter this season on December 31, 66-61.

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