Collin Sexton, John Petty lead Alabama by Virginia Tech 86-83

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The Crimson Tide's victory came almost a dozen years to the day of its last tournament win when Mark Gottfried's Alabama team knocked off Marquette 90-85 on March 16, 2006 before getting upended by UCLA in the second round that season.

The Tide reached Saturday's action with an 86-83 victory over Virginia Tech on Thursday.

"In the second half, it just turned downhill too much", said Virginia Tech Coach Buzz Williams of Sexton and the offense of the Crimson Tide, who were the first team to score more than 84 points on the Hokies since early February.

National Basketball Association prospect Collin Sexton, Alabama's freshman point guard, scored 22 of his 25 points in the second half.

"Virginia Tech shot the ball extremely well in the first half from the three-point line", Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said."We couldn't guard them from three".

Collin Sexton led Alabama with 25 points.

Alabama (20-15) moves on to face top-seeded Villanova on Saturday in Pittsburgh. So Villanova has now shot at least 50 percent from the floor in five of its last nine games.

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Virginia Tech would get one final chance with less than a minute left, trailing 78-74, as Robinson came up with a steal out of a timeout.

The Hokies finished 21-12 overall, 10-8 in the ACC, but all they care about right now is the fact that they finished 0-1 in the NCAA tournament.

After Sexton hit his seventh straight free-throw to give Alabama an 85-79 lead with 26 seconds remaining, Virginia Tech's Nickeil Alexander-Walker missed a 3 at the other end. He had a game-high five turnovers to go with his 25 points, and he sometimes looked like he was outrunning his own teammates.

While most of the attention will be on Sexton and Robinson, keep an eye on Bibbs as a guy who could go off and have a big game in pursuit of his first NCAA Tournament victory. Alabama's adjustments at halftime limited the Hokies to 44.8 percent from the field and 2-for-9 from 3-point range in the second half. The Hokies lost to a Bagley-less Duke team in Cameron Indoor Stadium, but came back to defeat the entire Blue Devil roster on Senior Night in Cassell Coliseum. Sexton made two free throws to extend the lead to 68-64 with 6:48 to go. Alabama responded with a 7-0 spurt, regaining a 36-34 edge when Petty canned a 3-pointer with 3:17 left. The Hokies are giving up 71.8 points per game against the opponents. The Wildcats covered a big number on the betting line in their tournament opener; can they cover another one here?

Alabama needed all of it. Sexton made some great plays, like he usually does. The freshman finished 6 of 8 from beyond the arc and hit a buzzer-beating 3 at the half to cut Virginia Tech's lead to 43-41. And the event delivered a thrilling first round game vs. (9) Alabama at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh - however, one in which the Hokies came up short.

The last five basketball seasons saw Villanova lose no more than five games.

"We had to be able to hit the first shot", Pugh said.

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