No. 8 Virginia Tech falls to No. 9 Alabama, 86-83

USA Today Sports—Reuters

Alabama barely squeaked into the NCAA Tournament, but the Crimson Tide have the talent to put on a show in the first round against a tough team like Virginia Tech.

After a back-and-forth start to the second half, Virginia Tech extended its led by five, 52-47, at the 14:26 mark in the second half, but Petty scored five-straight points to knot the score at 52 apiece with 13:50 left to play. While the Hokies may not be able to contain Sexton, they'll be able to slow down the rest of Alabama while experienced guards like Justin Robinson and Justin Bibbs step up and get the job done to lead the Hokies to their first NCAA Tournament win in over a decade.

Virginia Tech had bullied Alabama guard Collin Sexton for much of Thursday's East Region first-round game, forcing the hottest player in college basketball to offer visible demonstrations of frustration.

Warming up for the second half, John Petty smiled a shot a thumbs up to the fan who shouted love to the Alabama freshman.

Donta Hall worked his way back from his concussion, scoring 10 points and making all five of his field-goal attempts.

A No. 1 seed from the Big East meets a sub-.500 team from the SEC when Villanova goes against Alabama in an NCAA tournament round-of-32 game Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh. Notre Dame made good use of their 25 trips to the free throw line, converting on 21 of them (84.0 percent). For the season, he led the Crimson Tide by averaging 19 points per game.

Virginia Tech later faced Duke, who has five potential first round picks in their starting lineup.

In a game that remained close for the entire 40 minutes, Alabamacame away the victor.

Smith gave Alabama a low-post threat with 8 points and 3 rebounds. However, the Crimson Tide have a chance to recover going into this game. The line has yet to be released however, I'm initially leaning towards taking Villanova as long as they are not favored by more than double-digits. Sexton hit one of the ensuing free throws and then two more to give Alabama a seven-point lead.

The bigger issue for Virginia Tech was an inability to keep Alabama in check.

Justin Robinson had team highs in points (19), assists (7) and steals (4) for the Hokies. It was his sixth 3-pointer of the game. Alabama responded with a 7-0 spurt, regaining a 36-34 edge when Petty canned a 3-pointer with 3:17 left.

Head coach Buzz Williams of the Virginia Tech Hokies. They had seven Quadrant One wins, but a trio of Quadrant Three Losses. In 2015, top-seeded Villanova was knocked off by No. 8 NC State 71-68. Both teams are hoping to make themselves right at home at PPG Paint Arena, and for one player in particular, it is home.

Even as Virginia Tech pulled back within two on a layup by Nickeil Alexander-Walker, even as it swarmed Sexton at every turn in the final minutes, its defense couldn't come up with the critical stops that had been integral to its late-season run.

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