Published: Sat, March 17, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Preston Stone

NCAA Tournament: Collin Sexton takes over late as Alabama beats Virginia Tech

NCAA Tournament: Collin Sexton takes over late as Alabama beats Virginia Tech

In the second half, Alabama's defense buckled down, holding the Hokies to 2-of-9 shooting from 3-point range and 44.8 percent shooting overall after Virginia Tech made 68 percent of its attempts in the first half.

After a back-and-forth start to the second half, Virginia Tech extended its led by five, 52-47, at the 14:26 mark in the second half, but Petty scored five-straight points to knot the score at 52 apiece with 13:50 left to play.

Sexton's matchup against Villanova point guard Jalen Brunson should make a great matchup in the second round. But Williams also knew Sexton, who entered Thursday's game averaging 25.5 points on 52 percent shooting over his previous four games, could stretch that defense like few other players.

Alabama will face top-seeded Villanova in the East Region's second round on Saturday. But getting consistent scoring from anybody but him has been an issue at times this season for the Crimson Tide, so they are going to need someone else to hit some shots if they can beat Virginia Tech. The Tide and Hokies played a tight game all night, with neither jumping out to a big lead.

Devin Wilson's basketball career at Virginia Tech has been circuitous to say the least.

The Hokies (21-12) finished the season on a three-game losing streak, including a loss at Miami in the regular-season finale and a loss to Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament. But the Hokies could never extend a lead on Alabama hung within two possessions the entire half by going 16-for-27 from the field. Alabama is giving up 70.0 points per game against the opponents.

Alabama is through to the NCAA tournament's round of 32, and it's mostly thanks to a blue-chip freshman guard whose name isn't Collin Sexton. "It has to be five of us against him, against his team". Until about midway through the second half, Nova was shooting 75 per cent from the field. The freshman finished 6 of 8 from beyond the arc and hit a buzzer-beating 3 at the half to cut Virginia Tech's lead to 43-41. Sexton was 7 of 14 from the field and 9 of 11 from the free throw line. No one knows exactly which Alabama team will show up on Thursday night.

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During their last five games, the Hokies have scored an average of 66.0 points per game (13.7 below their season average) and allowed an average of 67.2 points per game (4.5 below their season average).

Blackshear missed a jumper and was called for his fourth foul. The Wildcats are tournament tested and built to win in March.

Either way, Alabama doesn't have a lot of guys they can look to as scoring options outside of Sexton. A year ago as a No. 1 seed, the Wildcats were upset by No. 8 Wisconsin 65-62.

Kerry Blackshear Jr. made one of two free throws to give Tech a 64-63 lead with 8:07 left.

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.

Both teams shot at a blistering clip in the first half.

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