March Madness: Alabama Defeats Virginia Tech In The First Round

The Kansas Jayhawks mascot jokes with fans in the stands before the start of a game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Allen Fieldhouse

The game starts at 12:10 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 17, 2018.

"Maybe early in the season, with the first half performance he had, he probably would have been average to below average in the second half", Johnson said. The Wildcats took down No. 16 seed Radford 87-61 earlier Thursday to advance to the matchup. The Wildcats aren't deep. They'll next play Loyola-Chicago on Saturday. Coming off of the bench, he had a huge contribution to the way Alabama finished on Thursday. In 2015, top-seeded Villanova was knocked off by No. 8 NC State 71-68.

"I know the bitter and sweet of this tournament", Villanova coach Jay Wright said.

The Wildcats rank 47th in blocks allowed per game (2.7) while the Crimson Tide rank 170th (3.7). No starter played more than 29 minutes, which could be very important in a quick turnaround. That's an absurd statistic. Their big men must try to keep the Tide from getting second chances on offense.

Prediction: Alabama has a gritty team, and with a star like Sexton, they're capable of beating any team in the country.

An attacking Collin Sexton is great for Alabama basketball.

Avery Johnson Jr. came in for Sexton with 12:22 left in the half.

Yet here Villanova is, the biggest favorite to beat Alabama at any point this season.

Even more impressive was the Wildcats' defense in holding the Highlanders to 34 percent shooting. Villanova doesn't make a lot of mistakes, so everything an opponent gets against them will be earned.

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.

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Young scored 28 points on 9-for-18 shooting with six turnovers.

Alabama shot 60.9 percent from the field in the second half (14-of-23), tying its season-high set on January 27 against Oklahoma, and outscored the Hokies 45-40 to secure the win. Alabama can't do that against Villanova. The Hokies fell back down to earth in the second half, making just 2 of 9 shots from 3-point range.

John Petty kept up the hot shooting he developed late in the SEC Tournament.

But it was Petty who paced Alabama. That included 10 points from junior center Donta Hall, who returned to action after missing one game with a concussion, and nine points from sophomore Dazon Ingram. Villanova doesn't have a ton of size so this could be an opportunity for Hall to have a breakout tournament game.

Quote of the game: "This will be a long night".

"Alabama being the program they are, national championship game, we talked about the unselfishness of (Jalen Hurts)".

Among those key eight points was one of two technical free throws after Williams argued a charging call against Justin Robinson with 48 seconds left.

(Boise) - Keita Bates-Diop, Kam Williams and C.J. Jackson combined to score 66 points, and Ohio State held off South Dakota State for an 81-73 win. Jared Terrell added 13 points, six rebounds and five assists.

But fans weren't fading the Buckeyes almost as much as he thinks - more than three-fourths picked Ohio State to win in the first round, better backing than fellow No. 5 seed Clemson.

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