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

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 15: John Petty /

The Alabama basketball team outlasted the hot shooting Virginia Tech Hokies to secure a second-round matchup with No. 1 Seed Villanova

The Alabama basketball team survived and advanced against a Virginia Tech team that just wouldn’t go away.  To their credit, they were probably thinking the same thing about the Tide.

The Tide and the Hokies battled in a matchup that saw neither team hold a lead of more than seven points.  Alabama, led by freshmen Collin Sexton and John Petty, used a late run to help secure the victory.

The game was back-and-forth until Alabama went on a 7-0 run with 5:11 remaining to give them the lead for good.  Although the Tide would never relinquish the lead again, VT made some furious attempts.

Sexton led Alabama with 25 points and 6 assists while Petty accounted for 20 points which included six threes.  The Tide also got a huge lift from its bench.  The bench accounted for 36 points and helped Alabama stay close when Sexton went out with foul trouble in the first-half.

Fouls almost played the spoiler for the Tide.  Alabama entered the bonus with over 15 minutes remaining in the second half.  In those first five minutes, Dazon Ingram recorded three straight fouls and was forced to sit.

Both teams shot the ball well throughout the game.  Alabama shot 60 percent from the field and Virginia Tech shot 55.6 percent.  It was obvious that whoever could string together a few stops would likely be the victor. Luckily Alabama did just that during the aforementioned 7-0 run.

Down the stretch clutch shooting from Petty and Sexton propelled the Tide. With 2:08 remaining, Sexton assisted Petty on a difficult three-pointer to put the Tide up 75-70.  After Virginia Tech answered with a jumper, Sexton hit a turnaround jumper to once again put Alabama up by five.

This was one of the best all-around games for the Tide, who should look to build on it.  Despite the 17 turnovers, Alabama racked up 19 assists.

Other Key Players in Tide Victory

Herbert Jones: Despite only scoring six points and having four turnovers, Jones made one of the most crucial plays of the game.  He took a charge, on what would have been an ‘and-1’ that could have cut Alabama’s lead to one with 48 seconds remaining.  That play also led to VT head coach Buzz Williams getting a technical foul for throwing paper onto the court.

Avery Johnson Jr: Only played 10 minutes but they were 10 huge minutes.  He scored 8 points on 4-of-5 shooting and was great filling in for Collin Sexton during his foul trouble.

Next: Alabama Football: Will A.J. McCarron be the starter for Buffalo?

Alabama basketball fans, you can exhale now. The Tide live to play another day.  Up next, the Tide will play No. 1 seed Villanova, Saturday at 11:10 AM (CST), for a chance to go to the Sweet 16.  Should the Tide win, it will be Alabama’s first trip since 2004 when they upset No.1 seed, Stanford.