Of course, the Crimson Tide's first NCAA Tournament victory in a dozen years didn't come easy, especially not in a first half when both Alabama and Virginia Tech were on fire from the floor. Alabama was going to have the most talented player on the floor in freshman guard Collin Sexton, a sure-fire National Basketball Association lottery pick this summer, but the Hokies were deeper.
This Saturday, the No. 1 Villanova Wildcats will take on the No. 9 Alabama Crimson Tide in a second round matchup of the NCAA Tournament. The SEC's co-Rookie of the Year finished with a game-high 25 points, scoring 10 straight for the Crimson Tide at one point.
Virginia Tech would get one final chance with less than a minute left, trailing 78-74, as Robinson came up with a steal out of a timeout.
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.
Alabama: Sexton might be the thinking man's version of Oklahoma star point guard Trae Young. So, during football season, I'll always say who watched the Alabama/Auburn game.
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It was Alabama's first NCAA tournament win since beating Marquette 90-85 in 2006. "He has accepted responsibility". The Hokies also lead the conference (and are 10th nationally) shooting 49.8 percent from the field, and are a close second in the ACC in three-point shooting (38.5 percent, Virginia: 39 percent). The top four scorers on this team (senior guard Justin Bibbs, redshirt junior guard Ahmed Hill, junior guard Justin Robinson and redshirt sophomore forward Kerry Bleackshear Jr.) all have been with the program for at least three years.
Pick: Virginia Tech 73, Alabama 67Photo Credit: Harley TaylorStay up with The Tech Lunch Pail for the latest on Virginia Tech. He was just 1-for-4 in the first half for three points, but roared back in the second half to finish with a game-high 25 points.
Rebounding is an issue for the Hokies as we've mentioned in our By The Numbers preview of tonight's game. If Hall is out, it gives the Hokies an advantage in the post with the more talented and experienced Kerry Blackshear, something that would make a major difference. Four different Hokies made 3s in the first 20 minutes and Virginia Tech went 7 of 9 from deep.
Only two teams in this tournament field can claim wins over the overall top-seeded Virginia Cavaliers.
Alabama needed all of it. Sexton made some great plays, like he usually does. And the event delivered a thrilling first round game vs. (9) Alabama at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh - however, one in which the Hokies came up short.
(Wichita) - Khadeen Carrington shot 11-of-13 from the free throw line and poured in 26 points to send Seton Hall to a 94-83 first round win over NC State.