The University of Alabama basketball team made it interesting until the end but finished with a fifth consecutive loss to end the regular season, falling 68-66 at Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon.
The loss left Alabama at 17-14 overall and gave the Crimson Tide a losing record (8-10) in Southeastern Conference play. The season-ending skid likely ended Alabama’s hopes of making the NCAA Tournament barring a significant run in the upcoming SEC Tournament in St. Louis.
“I thought our energy was good,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said after the loss. “We didn’t always make the best decisions with the ball.
“This was a game between two physical teams who were playing hard to get a win today. Texas A&M is a very talented team and they were ranked as high as No. 5 in the nation this year for a reason. Every team in the SEC has had some ups and downs this year, especially in a conference as tough as this one. They held us off. They played well and rebounded the ball well. They are one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the country and have a lot of size.
“A lot of times it isn’t about what we didn’t do. Let’s give Texas A&M credit. They played a very hard game to the very end.”
Alabama overcame an 11-point second-half deficit and took a 53-52 lead on a Donta Hall free throw with 4:39 to play. But the Aggies answered with an 8-0 run and survived a strange sequence which saw one of its players (J.J. Starks) thrown out of the game for shoving Alabama’s Collin Sexton in the head fouling a foul but saw the Aggies suffer no actual penalty for the play. After a review, officials determined that Sexton had “verbally instigated” the incident, resulting in four free throws for the Aggies (who made three) and two for Sexton.
Alabama made it a one-possession game after Braxton Key made two foul shots after being fouled on a 3-point attempt. He missed the third attempt but Alabama claimed the rebound. Key missed a potentially game-tying 3-pointer and Sexton turned the ball over with four seconds remaining, allowing the Aggies (20-11, 9-9 SEC) to seal the win with two free throws before Key hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Sexton led all scorers with 23 points. Tyler Davis led Texas A&M with a double-double, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. The Crimson Tide played without freshman Herb Jones (concussion) and saw guard Dazon Ingram foul out with more than eight minutes to play.