As loyal Alabama fans watched dejectedly as the Crimson Tide football fans turned away from watching the game in Santa Clara, there was at least the solace that Alabama would win something else at some point.
Well, not yet.
The Crimson Tide had an opportunity that was teed up about as nicely as Southeastern Conference competition gets, hosting the league’s last-place team on Saturday afternoon. But a 3-point bank shot at the buzzer gave Texas A&M an 81-80 victory and sends Alabama on a two-game road swing with an early sub-.500 record.
Starks, the Aggies’ sophomore point guard, made the dramatic shot.
“Give him kudos for that,” Alabama forward Tevin Mack said. “That’s a great shot by him.”
“We were trying to get Dazon (Ingram) on Starks wherever he went, but we had a sort of cross-switch and had someone else on him. We had him pinned over on the sideline but he’s a strong, athletic guy and he made the shot.”
The issue, though, wasn’t A&M’s heroics. The fact that a shot at the buzzer mattered was attributable to Alabama allowing 49 points to the Aggies despite the fact that Texas A&M made just one 3-pointer in the half before Starks’ game winner.
“For some reason, we went through a stretch where we were out of position on post defense and it hurt us,” Johnson said.
Josh Nebo, a reserve forward averaging 7.0 points per game, came off the bench to score 21 points for the Aggies on 10-of-12 shooting from the floor.
Alabama (10-5, 1-2 SEC) led at the half, 43-32, on the strength of 7-of-15 3-point shooting, including four (on six attempts) by Petty. That gradually cooled off in the second half as the Aggies gradually gnawed away at the Crimson Tide advantage. Texas A&M took its first lead, 62-61, on a Nebo dunk with 8:07 remaining.
The Crimson Tide regained the lead and seemed to be in good shape with a 79-76 lead and under 10 seconds to play. But an airball 3-point attempt by Starks with 4.8 seconds remaining ended up in the hands of Savion Flagg, who was then fouled by Riley Norris. Flagg’s free throws cut the lead to 79-78. Kira Lewis was then fouled but made one of two, leaving the door open for Starks’ heroics.
John Petty led Alabama with 22 points. Donta Hall had a double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds, while Lewis also scored 14 points.
Texas A&M (7-7, 1-2 SEC) was paced by Nebo’s 21 points.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.