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Sexton's buzzer beater lifts Alabama over Texas A&M, 71-70

ST. LOUIS (AP) Collin Sexton wasn't quite ready to put Alabama's postseason chances in the hands of the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

Instead, the standout freshman took the Crimson Tide's fate into his own hands - a plan that kept the school's NCAA hopes alive for another day.

Sexton drove the length of the court in the final seconds and hit a floater at the buzzer to give ninth-seeded Alabama (18-14) a 71-70 win over Texas A&M on Thursday. He did so just moments after T.J. Starks hit a 3-pointer to put the Aggies up 70-69 with 4.4 seconds remaining, taking the inbounds pass following a timeout and racing up the court for the game winner.

''Coach (Avery Johnson) just told me to race it up the floor to get to the basket,'' Sexton said. ''He knew how fast I could get there so he said, `Just get to the basket, get a layup for us.' "

Sexton finished with 27 points, none bigger than his final two. Alabama led by as many as 12 points in the second half, but the No. 8 seed Aggies (20-12) rallied and went up by one point after Starks' 3-pointer.

That's when Sexton took the inbounds pass and raced up the court for his winning shot. Dazon Ingram scored 13 points for the Crimson Tide, and Donta Hall added 11.

The win snaps a five-game losing streak for the Crimson Tide, and it provides a much-needed boost for school's case for a bid to the NCAA Tournament - which it is trying to reach for the first time since 2012.

''I think (the pressure) is motivating,'' Johnson said. ''They understand that there are not a lot of chances left, no matter how far you go ... I just told them, `Are you going to be able to look at yourself in the mirror after this game?' "

Starks matched his career high with 23 points in the loss for Texas A&M, and Admon Gilder had 15.

The Aggies had won three in a row entering the game, including a 68-66 victory over the Crimson Tide six days ago. Texas A&M 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.

''I feel really good (about Texas A&M's NCAA Tournament chances),'' Aggies coach Billy Kennedy said. ''Something we can learn from is that the game's not over until the buzzer goes off.''

BIG PICTURE

Alabama: The Crimson Tide entered the game 56th in the NCAA's RPI ratings despite its late-season woes, thanks in large part to earlier victories this season over ranked opponents such as Auburn, Oklahoma, Florida and Tennessee. Alabama also has a win over a then-No. 5 Texas A&M on Dec. 30, and it will have another opportunity to impress the selection committee when it faces top-seeded Auburn on Friday. The Crimson Tide reached the tournament semifinals with a pair of victories last season.

Texas A&M: Even with the loss, the Aggies appear likely to reach the NCAA Tournament for a second time in three seasons after beginning the day 25th in RPI. Starks previously scored 23 points in a game at Auburn on Feb. 7. The freshman guard was 8 of 17 from the field on Thursday and appeared to have won the game with his late 3-pointer, only to watch as Sexton answered on the other end.

DAVIS' DIFFICULTY

Texas A&M center Tyler Davis scored 20 points in the win over Alabama last week, but he struggled to repeat that performance on Wednesday. The 6-foot-10 junior, a first-team All-SEC selection by the league's coaches, was just 1 of 5 from the field against the Crimson Tide and finished with seven points to go along with 10 rebounds.

UP NEXT

Alabama faces Auburn in the quarterfinals on Friday.

The Aggies wait to find out their postseason fate.

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Key Players
C. Sexton
D. Hogg
31.0 Min. Per Game 31.0
11.4 Pts. Per Game 11.4
2.7 Ast. Per Game 2.7
5.3 Reb. Per Game 5.3
43.7 Field Goal % 41.7
31.6 Three Point % 38.5
77.3 Free Throw % 71.6
+ 2 Collin Sexton made floating jump shot 1.0
  30-second timeout called 4.0
+ 3 T.J. Starks made 3-pt. jump shot 5.0
+ 2 Collin Sexton made floating jump shot 17.0
+ 2 T.J. Starks made turnaround jump shot 39.0
  Defensive rebound by Robert Williams 1:00
  Collin Sexton missed free throw 1:00
  Shooting foul on Robert Williams 1:00
+ 2 Collin Sexton made floating jump shot 1:00
+ 3 Admon Gilder made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Tyler Davis 1:16
  Shot clock violation turnover on Alabama 1:33
Team Stats
Points 71 70
Field Goals 28-59 (47.5%) 24-61 (39.3%)
3-Pointers 4-13 (30.8%) 6-20 (30.0%)
Free Throws 11-16 (68.8%) 16-21 (76.2%)
Total Rebounds 33 44
Offensive 9 15
Defensive 22 26
Team 2 3
Assists 11 6
Steals 9 6
Blocks 3 9
Turnovers 13 17
Fouls 18 20
Technicals 0 0
27 PTS, 3 REB, 5 AST
23 PTS, 3 REB, 4 AST
12T
away team logo Alabama 18-14 353671
home team logo Texas A&M 20-12 284270
Team Stats
away team logo Alabama 18-14 72.3 PPG 38.4 RPG 12.7 APG
home team logo Texas A&M 20-12 75.2 PPG 44.5 RPG 15.4 APG
Key Players
00
C. Sexton G PPG RPG APG FG%
2
T. Starks G 9.9 PPG 2.0 RPG 2.3 APG 38.8 FG%
Top Scorers
C. Sexton G 27 PTS 3 REB 5 AST
T. Starks G 23 PTS 3 REB 4 AST
47.5 FG% 39.3
30.8 3PT FG% 30.0
68.8 FT% 76.2
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
C. Sexton 33 27 3 5 1 0 3 2 9/16 3/6 6/7 1 2
D. Ingram 29 13 9 3 2 0 4 3 5/12 1/3 2/5 4 5
D. Hall 25 11 5 1 1 0 1 1 4/9 0/0 3/4 2 3
G. Smith 23 8 3 0 0 1 0 1 4/5 0/0 0/0 0 3
J. Petty 25 0 4 1 0 0 2 2 0/5 0/3 0/0 0 4
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
C. Sexton 33 27 3 5 1 0 3 2 9/16 3/6 6/7 1 2
D. Ingram 29 13 9 3 2 0 4 3 5/12 1/3 2/5 4 5
D. Hall 25 11 5 1 1 0 1 1 4/9 0/0 3/4 2 3
G. Smith 23 8 3 0 0 1 0 1 4/5 0/0 0/0 0 3
J. Petty 25 0 4 1 0 0 2 2 0/5 0/3 0/0 0 4
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
H. Jones 25 6 3 0 3 2 2 2 3/3 0/0 0/0 0 3
B. Key 20 4 3 1 1 0 1 2 2/3 0/0 0/0 2 1
D. Giddens 8 2 1 0 0 0 0 3 1/3 0/0 0/0 0 1
A. Johnson Jr. 7 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0/1 0/0 0/0 0 0
A. Reese 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/2 0/1 0/0 0 0
L. Schaffer - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Davis - - - - - - - - - - - - -
L. Fuller - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Barnes - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 200 71 31 11 9 3 13 18 28/59 4/13 11/16 9 22
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
T. Starks 29 23 3 4 1 0 5 4 8/17 1/6 6/8 1 2
A. Gilder 37 15 4 0 3 0 1 3 4/12 2/5 5/6 0 4
D. Hogg 29 9 3 0 0 1 4 3 3/8 3/7 0/0 0 3
T. Davis 25 7 10 1 0 0 4 4 1/5 0/0 5/7 4 6
R. Williams 34 6 10 1 1 7 2 2 3/7 0/0 0/0 4 6
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
T. Starks 29 23 3 4 1 0 5 4 8/17 1/6 6/8 1 2
A. Gilder 37 15 4 0 3 0 1 3 4/12 2/5 5/6 0 4
D. Hogg 29 9 3 0 0 1 4 3 3/8 3/7 0/0 0 3
T. Davis 25 7 10 1 0 0 4 4 1/5 0/0 5/7 4 6
R. Williams 34 6 10 1 1 7 2 2 3/7 0/0 0/0 4 6
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
T. Trocha-Morelos 20 8 7 0 1 1 0 3 4/7 0/2 0/0 4 3
S. Flagg 17 2 4 0 0 0 0 1 1/4 0/0 0/0 2 2
J. Chandler 10 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0/1 0/0 0/0 0 0
D. Wilson - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Collins - - - - - - - - - - - - -
F. Byers - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Caldwell - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. French - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Alo - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I. Jasey - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Walker III - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 201 70 41 6 6 9 17 20 24/61 6/20 16/21 15 26