Rushed Reactions: #9 Alabama 86, #8 Virginia Tech 83

Posted by Walker Carey on March 16th, 2018

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish. Walker Carey (@walkerRcarey) is in Pittsburgh this weekend.

Three Key Takeaways.

Alabama is a Dangerous Squad (USA Today Images)

  1. Virginia Tech missed an opportunity in the first half. Virginia Tech led by two points at halftime but that thin lead represented a missed opportunity for the Hokies. They had shot 68 percent from the field and 78 percent from the three-point line but they couldn’t get stops on the other end to build any kind of meaningful lead. Alabama on its own right shot 59.3 percent from the field and 50 percent from three in the period – and the Crimson Tide are a team that gets more dangerous as it builds confidence. That confidence allowed Alabama to stay hot in the second half while Virginia Tech regressed. The Hokies have to be kicking themselves for not getting after it more on the defensive end in the first half when they had their chance.
  2. Alabama’s talented freshmen showed out spectacularly. The Crimson Tide received massive contributions tonight from star freshman guard Collin Sexton and reserve freshman swingman John Petty. Sexton provided the energy and attitude Alabama needed all night long, finishing with a game-high 25 points and dishing out a team-high six assists. Petty came off the Crimson Tide bench and knocked down six of his eight three-point attempts on his way to totaling 20 points. Everyone knows the old adage about experience being the most valuable asset in the NCAA Tournament but Alabama seems to be doing just fine with its freshmen leading the way.
  3. How far can Collin Sexton take the Crimson Tide? There have been several examples of lead guards taking their teams deep into the bracket over the years. Collin Sexton certainly fits that mold, as he has the skills and presence to take Alabama to unprecedented heights. Sexton’s next test will not be easy, though, as the Crimson Tide will face top-seeded Villanova on Saturday. That game will present a difficult individual challenge for Sexton in matching up with Villanova All-American point guard Jalen Brunson. There is still quite a bit of basketball to be played prior to Saturday, but college basketball fans should mark Villanova vs. Alabama in the early afternoon slot as appointment viewing.

Player of the Game. Collin Sexton, Alabama. It has to be Sexton. Without the services of its star freshman, Alabama would have lost by 20 or more points. He is the engine that drives the Crimson Tide, and he went well tonight, finishing with 25 points and six assists.

Quotable.

  • “Miss or make – we ride with him regardless. He is getting into a rhythm right now. It is going to be hard to get him out of it.” – Alabama guard Collin Sexton, discussing John Petty’s terrific shooting performance.
  • “A.J. (Avery Johnson, Jr.) came in and made some big plays for us. He was great. I had to mention that. His mom is going to be really happy that I did.” – Alabama coach Avery Johnson, pointing out the positive contribution his son made off the bench.
  • “We are doing it the right way with the right people. I am proud of that.” – Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams, acknowledging how he is proud of where his program sits.

Sights and Sounds. Alabama is well-known for its football fans, but you would not have known it from their basketball fan presence tonight. The Crimson Tide faithful stayed loud throughout the game and “ROLL TIDE ROLL!” bellowed throughout PPG Paints Arena at least a dozen times over the course of the contest.

Wildcard. Alabama head coach Avery Johnson opened his postgame press conference with a heartfelt statement regarding how much Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams has helped him since he became a college coach and that he cherishes their friendship. It was a nice human moment after such a hard-fought battle between their two teams.

What’s Next. Alabama advances to the Second Round where it will take on top-seeded Villanova at 12:15 PM EST on Saturday.

 

WCarey (279 Posts)


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