Sexton, Alabama edge Virginia Tech

Junior Donta Hall had 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field, and sophomore Dazon Ingram had nine points, seven rebounds, and four assists for Alabama.

The Crimson Tide's victory came almost a dozen years to the day of its last NCAA Tournament win when Mark Gottfried's Alabama squad knocked off Marquette 90-85 as a No. 10 seed on March 16, 2006. They next face No. 1 Villanova in the second round, looking to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1991. (Wright) is a big fan of them and how they have so many talented players on their team, but at the end of the day, they all came together for one goal. Six different players on Villanova's squad finished with at least 10 points. Alabama shot 60 percent from the field and Virginia Tech shot 55.6 percent.

Either way, Alabama doesn't have a lot of guys they can look to as scoring options outside of Sexton.

The Hokies closed the ACC season 4-2 in their final six games against tournament teams, beating NC State, Virginia, Clemson and Duke with losses at Duke and at Miami.

Virginia Tech has had some struggles from the free-throw line, but they're facing an Alabama team that has been much worse at the charity stripe this season. "Just to make sure we come into this game ready and that's what we did". Alabama started 6-0 this season and closed November 7-1, but opened December by losing three of five.

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The proof came during the second half.

Williams had tinkered with his team's defensive approach after giving up 84 points to Miami in a loss February 3, and it paid off with low-scoring wins over Clemson, Virginia and Duke over the final month of the season. It was the second consecutive big performance for Petty, who scored 18 points against Kentucky in the SEC semifinals. "We just took it one possession at a time, kept it down". Mikal Bridges had 13 points, Eric Paschall scored 11, and Omari Spellman had 10 points and seven rebounds.

As far as match ups go, the 8-9 games are always fun and that is what we have here in the Steel City between Virginia Tech and Alabama.

Sexton later made one of two free throws for a 78-72 cushion with 1:06 remaining.

Alabama (20-15) advances to play top-seeded Villanova (31-4) at 11:10 a.m. CT Saturday.

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Watching Villanova on Thursday against Radford, there are some things Alabama can exploit.

The Hokies finish the season 21-and-12.

It was hard to argue that point after Crimson Tide coach Avery Johnson's 15-minute whirlwind of a press conference, when he credited seemingly every person in Tuscaloosa for his team's success this year.

Jalen Brunson scored 16 points, and the top-seeded Wildcats hit 14 three-pointers in an 87-61 romp over the No. 16 Highlanders in Pittsburgh.

The Crimson Tide have been outscored by an average of 5.4 points in their last five games. Both teams have shown that they have very high ceilings and are starting to play some of their best basketball even if they are still a little inconsistent.

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  • Gina Adkins