BAMA
VATECH

No Text

Sexton, Petty lead Alabama by Virginia Tech 86-83

PITTSBURGH (AP) Avery Johnson has spent plenty of time trying to convince Alabama freshman star Collin Sexton to take ownership of his play and the Crimson Tide, a message the coach has repeated frequently during his team's uneven season.

It finally seems to be getting through. The fact it took until March hardly matters.

''(Sexton's) giving more speeches to our team, which is showing leadership,'' Johnson said.

Make no mistake, however. It's the point guard's play - and not his talk - that sent the Crimson Tide into the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Sexton shook off a shaky and foul-marred first half to score 21 of his team-high 24 points after the break as Alabama took control late in an 86-83 victory over Virginia Tech on Thursday night.

''The coaches prepare us for stuff like this,'' Sexton said. ''They do so many hours of film, and they tell us all the answers to the test.''

The proof came during the second half.

Sexton made six of 10 field goals and 10 of 14 free throws over the final 20 minutes, including a jumper that got a friendly bounce off the back of the rim and a turnaround that gave the Crimson Tide a bit of breathing room in a game that featured 10 lead changes and never saw either club go in front by more than seven points.

No. 9 seed Alabama will face top-seeded Villanova in the East Region's second round on Saturday. The Wildcats had little trouble dispatching Radford earlier Thursday.

Things weren't nearly as easy for the Crimson Tide, who needed Sexton and freshman backcourt mate John Petty - and a serious uptick in defensive intensity in the late going - to reach the round 32 for the first time since 2006.

Sexton and Petty were in elementary school back then. Now they're the centerpiece of Johnson's dynamic attack with the Crimson Tide (20-15). Alabama shot 60 percent (30 of 50) from the floor. 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.

''When I get in that type of mode, I feel like no one can stop me from shooting the ball,'' Petty said. ''I always have my eyes locked on my target and I'm going to hit it.''

COSTLY CALL

Point guard Justin Robinson led the eighth-seeded Hokies (21-12) with 19 points but fouled out after being whistled for a charge with 48 seconds remaining and Virginia Tech down 78-74. Hokies coach Buzz Williams got a technical foul after erupting in frustration. Sexton made one of two free throws and then added two more on Alabama's ensuing possession to give the Crimson Tide just enough of a cushion.

''I shouldn't have had a towel in my hand,'' Williams said. ''That made it look worse.''

The bigger issue for Virginia Tech was an inability to keep Alabama in check. The Hokies forced 17 turnovers but couldn't slow down Petty and had trouble whenever Sexton got into the lane. Alabama made 20 of 30 2-point shots, including 11 of 14 in the second half.

HONORING BENSON

Johnson paid tribute to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, who died on Thursday at age 90. Benson gave Johnson, a New Orleans native, a Super Bowl ring after the Saints won their only title in February 2010 after Johnson served as a consultant and honorary ambassador for the club.

''He meant so much to the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana and so many people,'' Johnson said.

BIG PICTURE

Alabama: Sexton might be the thinking man's version of Oklahoma star point guard Trae Young. Sexton lacks Young's shooting touch, but his quickness makes it nearly impossible to keep him out of the lane. And rather than force shots late, Sexton tried to get to the rim.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies are on the rise in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but success in March remains elusive. Virginia Tech has just one NCAA Tournament win in the last 21 years.

UP NEXT

Alabama will try to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004 when it takes on Villanova.

---

More AP college basketball: https://collegebasketball.ap.org; https://twitter.com/AP-Top25 and https://www.podcastone.com/ap-sports-special-events

Copyright 2018 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
C. Sexton
2 G
J. Robinson
5 G
30.9 Min. Per Game 30.9
13.8 Pts. Per Game 13.8
5.6 Ast. Per Game 5.6
2.8 Reb. Per Game 2.8
44.6 Field Goal % 46.4
33.8 Three Point % 39.8
77.8 Free Throw % 78.2
+ 2 Tyrie Jackson made layup 1.0
  Offensive rebound by Tyrie Jackson 0.0
  Devin Wilson missed layup 0.0
  Defensive rebound by Chris Clarke 6.0
  Dazon Ingram missed 2nd of 2 free throws 6.0
  Dazon Ingram missed 1st of 2 free throws 6.0
  Personal foul on Justin Bibbs 6.0
+ 2 Ahmed Hill made driving layup 8.0
+ 1 Dazon Ingram made 2nd of 2 free throws 17.0
  Dazon Ingram missed 1st of 2 free throws 17.0
  Personal foul on Ahmed Hill 17.0
Team Stats
Points 86 83
Field Goals 30-50 (60.0%) 30-54 (55.6%)
3-Pointers 8-18 (44.4%) 9-18 (50.0%)
Free Throws 18-27 (66.7%) 14-20 (70.0%)
Total Rebounds 26 22
Offensive 9 8
Defensive 16 11
Team 1 3
Assists 19 14
Steals 3 7
Blocks 3 1
Turnovers 15 13
Fouls 18 22
Technicals 0 1
25 PTS, 3 REB, 6 AST
19 PTS, 3 REB, 7 AST
12T
away team logo 9 Alabama 20-15 414586
home team logo 8 Virginia Tech 21-12 434083
Team Stats
away team logo 9 Alabama 20-15 72.0 PPG 41.2 RPG 12.3 APG
home team logo 8 Virginia Tech 21-12 73.5 PPG 35.6 RPG 15.2 APG
Key Players
00
C. Sexton G PPG RPG APG FG%
5
J. Robinson G 13.5 PPG 3.2 RPG 5.0 APG 47.3 FG%
Top Scorers
C. Sexton G 25 PTS 3 REB 6 AST
J. Robinson G 19 PTS 3 REB 7 AST
60.0 FG% 55.6
44.4 3PT FG% 50.0
66.7 FT% 70.0
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
C. Sexton 25 3 6 7/14 1/5 10/14 4 33 0 0 5 0 3
D. Hall 10 3 0 5/5 0/0 0/0 3 25 1 0 0 1 2
D. Ingram 9 7 4 2/5 1/2 4/8 4 26 1 1 3 2 5
H. Jones 6 4 3 3/4 0/0 0/0 3 34 1 1 4 1 3
B. Key 0 1 1 0/2 0/1 0/0 4 17 0 0 1 1 0
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
C. Sexton 25 3 6 7/14 1/5 10/14 4 33 0 0 5 0 3
D. Hall 10 3 0 5/5 0/0 0/0 3 25 1 0 0 1 2
D. Ingram 9 7 4 2/5 1/2 4/8 4 26 1 1 3 2 5
H. Jones 6 4 3 3/4 0/0 0/0 3 34 1 1 4 1 3
B. Key 0 1 1 0/2 0/1 0/0 4 17 0 0 1 1 0
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Petty 20 3 3 6/9 6/8 2/2 0 29 0 0 2 2 1
A. Johnson Jr. 8 0 1 3/5 0/2 2/3 0 10 0 0 0 0 0
G. Smith 8 3 1 4/5 0/0 0/0 0 19 0 1 0 2 1
A. Reese 0 1 0 0/1 0/0 0/0 0 7 0 0 0 0 1
L. Schaffer - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Giddens - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Davis - - - - - - - - - - - - -
L. Fuller - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Barnes - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 86 25 19 30/50 8/18 18/27 18 200 3 3 15 9 16
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Robinson 19 3 7 6/8 1/3 6/6 5 31 3 0 2 1 2
J. Bibbs 17 2 0 6/12 3/5 2/2 2 36 0 0 3 1 1
N. Alexander-Walker 15 2 3 5/12 3/8 2/4 0 28 0 0 1 0 2
K. Blackshear Jr. 8 2 0 3/5 0/0 2/4 5 18 1 1 2 0 2
D. Wilson 0 1 0 0/1 0/0 0/0 1 23 1 0 0 1 0
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Robinson 19 3 7 6/8 1/3 6/6 5 31 3 0 2 1 2
J. Bibbs 17 2 0 6/12 3/5 2/2 2 36 0 0 3 1 1
N. Alexander-Walker 15 2 3 5/12 3/8 2/4 0 28 0 0 1 0 2
K. Blackshear Jr. 8 2 0 3/5 0/0 2/4 5 18 1 1 2 0 2
D. Wilson 0 1 0 0/1 0/0 0/0 1 23 1 0 0 1 0
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
W. Bede 9 0 2 4/5 1/1 0/0 5 10 0 0 0 0 0
P. Horne 5 4 0 2/6 0/0 1/2 1 20 1 0 1 3 1
A. Hill 4 2 0 2/3 0/0 0/0 1 11 0 0 2 1 1
C. Clarke 4 2 2 1/1 1/1 1/2 1 21 1 0 2 0 2
T. Jackson 2 1 0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0
N. Fullard - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Sy - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Ammerman - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 83 19 14 30/54 9/18 14/20 22 200 7 1 13 8 11