Alabama pulls away late for win over Virginia Tech

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And for the second straight year, the Hokies bowed out in the first round. "I think we go into the NCAA Tournament (thinking) 'Hey, the worst has kind of happened.' Now we can forget about it and start a new season".

Alabama (20-15) plays top-seeded Villanova (31-4) at 11:10 a.m. on Saturday after the Wildcats decimated 16th-seeded Radford 87-61 earlier.

The Crimson Tide advanced in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 12 years, withstanding a frantic finish to beat Virginia Tech, 86-83.

Last season, ninth-seeded Virginia Tech lost to eighth-seeded Wisconsin 84-74. Alabama shot 60.0% from the field and 44.4% (8-18) from beyond the arc in the win. The smart money here gives the points.

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Avery Johnson has spent plenty of time trying to convince Alabama freshman Collin Sexton to take ownership of his play and the men's basketball team, a message the coach has repeated frequently during the Crimson Tide's uneven season. Sexton also recorded three rebounds and six assists. Or will they play to what they know, and challenge Alabama to a fast-paced shootout?

At one point, Brunson had 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting. They averaged better than 80 points per game this season and that will make them hard to defend here, even though Alabama is solid in that regard. Since then, he's been the leader in most of Tech's games. He had two 3-pointers in the run. Petty, meanwhile, put in 20 points on 6-of-8 from 3-point range.

But Tech never led again. He took a charge, on what would have been an "and-1" that could have cut Alabama's lead to one with 48 seconds remaining. For Williams and the Hokies, it wasn't. Getting to the free throw line was one of Kentucky's biggest strengths. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games. The bench accounted for 36 points and helped Alabama stay close when Sexton went out with foul trouble in the first-half.

In his final game wearing orange and maroon threads, senior Justin Bibbs scored 17 points, while fellow senior and Pittsburgh native Devin Wilson was held scoreless in his last game.

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After Donta Hall dunked to extend the lead to 72-68, Tech reserve P.J. Horne scored to trim the lead to 77-70.

Petty said his toughest 3-pointer wasn't the one just before halftime.

The turnaround on the court began last month when Williams grew disenchanted with the Hokies' defensive effort in an 84-75 loss to Miami on February 3. Several minutes later, he knocked down a jumper that bricked off the back of the iron to extend the lead to six. Dazon Ingram got the rebound and made 1 of 2 free throws to make it a three-possession game. He begged for foul calls. They had 28 free throw attempts, while Alabama had 15. Tech had 20 points in the paint in the first half.

Virginia Tech has several guys that can score. The future National Basketball Association lottery pick scored a game-high 25 points, 20 of which came in the second half.

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