Collin Sexton scored 27 points, including the game-winning basket at the buzzer after an end-to-end dash, as Alabama outlasted Texas A&M 71-70 on Thursday afternoon in a Southeastern Conference tournament second-round contest at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Texas A&M’s Admon Gilder canned an NBA-length 3-pointer to tie the game at 65 with 1:16 to play, after which Sexton and the Aggies’ TJ Starks traded jumpers to knot the game again at 67. Sexton then hit a jumper with 17 seconds remaining to push the Crimson Tide back to the lead before Starks coolly poured in a 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds left that looked as if it gave the Aggies the win.
But Sexton raced up the floor, split two Texas A&M defenders and sunk the clinching floater as time expired.
The Crimson Tide move on play top-seeded and 16th-ranked Auburn on Friday in one of the event’s four quarterfinal games. Texas A&M was the tournament’s eighth seed while Alabama is its ninth.
Dazon Ingram added 13 points and Donta Hall hit for 11 as Alabama (18-14) ended a five-game losing streak.
The Aggies (20-12) got 23 points from Starks and 15 from Gilder in the loss while Tyler Davis and Robert Williams each took 10 rebounds.
Texas A&M led by as many as seven points in the early minutes, but the Crimson Tide steadily cut into that advantage and tied the game at 16 on a layup by Ingram at the 10:15 mark. Alabama then dominated the final nine minutes of the half and, after two free throws by Sexton with three seconds remaining, assumed a 35-28 advantage at halftime.
Sexton led all scorers over the first 20 minutes of play with nine points as the Crimson Tide outshot Texas A&M 50 percent to 31.3 percent and forced the Aggies into nine first-half turnovers.
Davis scored seven points to pace Texas A&M, and the Aggies were able to keep the game close via a 25-14 advantage in rebounding, including an 11-1 edge on the offensive glass.
Alabama expanded its lead to 54-42 after a Herbert Jones jumper with 13:03 to play before the Aggies started cutting into that advantage. A jumper by Tonny Trocha-Morelos brought Texas A&M to within 63-62 with 4:55 to play, capped an 11-3 run for the Aggies and set the stage for the furious finish.
—Field Level Media