Alabama’s hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament were on life support until Collin Sexton revived them.
The prized freshman drove the length of the floor in 4.4 seconds and sank a go-ahead floater as time expired, giving the ninth-seeded Crimson Tide a 71-70 SEC tournament victory over eight-seeded Texas A&M in a game they likely had to have keep hope of an NCAA tournament bid alive.
An Alabama loss would have been its sixth in a row and would have lowered its record to 17-15 overall. Making a case for the Tide to make the NCAA tournament under those circumstances would have been tough despite their challenging schedule and long list of quality wins.
Now Alabama improves to 18-14 overall, banks another quadrant 1 victory and gets a crack at SEC co-champion Auburn on Friday afternoon. That could be a win-and-in situation for the Tide, though they would still have hope even if they lose.
The crux of Alabama’s resume are its six quadrant 1 wins, one each over Auburn, Tennessee, Rhode Island and Florida and a pair against Texas A&M. It will be up to the selection committee to decide whether the Tide having a larger collection of marquee wins than most bubble teams outweighs also having more losses.
At minimum, Alabama is still alive, and the Tide has Sexton to thank for that. The future first-round pick scored 27 points on 9-for-16 shooting on Thursday to will Alabama past a Texas A&M team that had already sewn up an NCAA tournament bid.
Now it’s on to Auburn for Alabama, a rivalry game with big stakes.
Win, and most likely the Tide will be in. Lose, and it will be a long, anxious wait.
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