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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggies fall to Alabama at the buzzer, 71-70

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Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Freshman guard TJ Starks contributed 23 points to the Aggies. 

In their second meeting in the last five days, the Aggie men’s basketball team (20-12, 9-9 SEC)lost to Alabama (18-14, 8-10 SEC), 71-70, in the second round of the SEC Tournamenton Thursday afternoon.

With 1:17 remaining in the game, Texas A&M junior guard Admon Gilder netted a three-pointer to tie the game up at 65-65. On the next possession, Alabama freshman guard Collin Sexton drove down the court and sunk a layup to give the Crimson Tide a two-point lead with 1:00 remaining.

A&M freshman guard TJ Starks then swooshed a jumper from the top of the key with 39 seconds remaining to tie the game up at 67-67. Sexton then darted down the court and nailed a quick jumper to give the Crimson Tide a one point lead with 17 seconds remaining. Starks responded, making a contested three-point shot with four seconds left in the game. Sexton then got the ball in his hands via an inbound pass and sprinted down the court and swooshed a game-winning floater just before the buzzer to give the Crimson Tide the 71-70 win.

The Alabama victory put their five-game losing skid to a halt and gave them a major boost in terms of their chances of making the NCAA Tournament. ESPN’s BPI gave the Tide a 99.7 percent chance of making the tournament with a win over the Aggies.

 

 

 

Junior forward DJ Hogg got the Aggies’ scoring started in the game, netting a pair of three-pointers in the first five minutes.

After a scuffle between freshman guards TJ Starks and Collin Sexton on Saturday that led to the ejection of Starks and a technical foul on Sexton, A&M head coach Billy Kennedy emphasized the importance of not letting extracirruclar activities affect their play. Though not against Sexton, Starks picked up his second foul with 8:46 remaining in the half, and was subbed out for the duration of the half.

Not having Starks was costly for the Aggies, who have very thin point guard depth after losing Duane Wilson to injury and J.J. Caldwell to dismissal earlier in the season. Jay Jay Chandler came in off the bench for Starks and gave the Aggies some solid minutes; however, the Aggies missed Starks’ scoring ability.

Sophomore forward Robert Williams was a virtual non-factor on the offensive end in the first half, making zero of his two shots. Conversely, junior center Tyler Davis, who is playing with a bruised bladder he suffered in Saturday’s game, had a bestial half, leading the Aggies in scoring and rebounding with seven and nine respectively.

The Aggies made just 31 percent (10-of-32) of their shots in the first half compared to the Crimson Tide who netted 50 percent (14-of-28). The Aggies trailed the Crimson Tide 35-28 at the half.

Alabama started the second half out on a 19-12 run and Sexton had seven points in that run. Davis picked up his fourth foul with 12:31 to go in the game, and was subbed out with 12:31 remaining in the game.

The absence of Davis forced the Aggies to look to Starks to step up in the scoring efforts. After picking up two early fouls in the first half, Starks was electric in the second half, driving to the basket and making a clutch three-pointer in crunch time. He finished the game with 23 points and 19 of the points came in the second half.

Robert Williams was stout defensively in the second half, grabbing six rebounds and swatting six blocks, however, struggled to get going offensively, with just six second half points. Williams finished the game with six points, 10 rebounds, and seven blocks.

Sexton proved to be too potent for the Aggies, who struggled to stop him in the second half. Sexton finished the second half with 18 points (7-of-11) from the field, and led the game in scoring with 27 points. The maroon and white battled back after trailing by 12 points with under 13 minutes remaining in the game, but their late effort wasn’t enough. The Crimson Tide outshot the Aggies 48 percent to 39 percent which ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.

The Aggies will now have a break before learning their fate on Sunday’s Selection Show. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi still has the Aggies listed as a 7-seed in the tournament but there are bound to be ample changes to the projected bracket with conference tournaments underway. The Selection Show will be televised on TBS and will begin at 5:00 p.m.
 

 

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