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Starks Hits Buzzer Beater to Lift the Aggies over Alabama

(Source: Texas A&M Athletics)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — After trailing for nearly the entire game, Texas A&M had a chance to defeat Alabama on the road.

With 3.4 seconds left, TJ Starks caught the inbound pass, which was lobbed over his head because Alabama was pressing, sprinted right outside the 3-point arc, and with his momentum still going toward the baseline, floated a shot that banked in for an 81-80 victory .

It was the Aggies’ first SEC and road win of the season.

“Hopefully, this (win) gives us some energy and confidence,” Texas A&M coach Bill Kennedy said.

The winning possession was set up by Alabama’s struggles from the free-throw line. With the Crimson Tide leading by a point, Kira Lewis Jr. went to the line and made only 1 of 2.

“Even if he would have made it, we would have tried to tie the game up with a 3,” Starks said. “It did give us a little bit of life once he missed the free throw.”

Up to the final possession, Starks had struggled, shooting just 3 of 16 for nine points. The Aggies turned to the combination of Savion Flagg and Josh Nebo to score on the inside with a combined 37 points.

They both finished with seven rebounds, which led the team.

“They had a stretch there, where for whatever reason, we were just out of position on post defense, especially on Nebo,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “He got the ball where he wanted to.”

The Aggies outscored the Crimson Tide by 48-30 inside the 3-point line.

Of the 40 minutes of the game, Alabama led for 36 minutes.

John Petty had his best game of the season for the Crimson Tide, scoring 22 points off six 3-pointers. Donta Hall recorded his seventh double-double of the season, finishing with 14 points and a season-high 16 rebounds.

Alabama has struggled holding onto a lead, and Saturday wasn’t any different. It built an 11-point lead by the end of the first half, and early in the second half, led by 12. Halfway through the second half, its lead was down to three, and it gave up its first lead of the game at the 7:34 mark.

“I just feel like they went on a run down the stretch,” Alabama forward Tevin Mack said. “Time ended up being on their side. We didn’t have enough time down the stretch for us to make our run.”


Texas A&M Basketball Postgame Notes
Texas A&M 81, Alabama 80
Coleman Coliseum (Tuscaloosa, Alabama) 

ABOUT THE GAME

  • Texas A&M moved to 7-7 on the year after picking up its first win in SEC play through three games on a buzzer beater from sophomore TJ Starks.
  • Alabama used a 12-2 run midway through the first half to take a double digit lead and the Aggies were unable to cut it to less than two possessions, trailing 43-32 at the break.
  • Used an 8-2 push to make it 62-61 Alabama with 7:57 left to play, forcing the Crimson Tide to call a timeout. Redshirt freshman John Walker III knocked down a pair of FTs with 7:30 left to play to give the Aggies their first lead of the day.
  • There were seven ties and five lead changes from that point on.
  • It came down to free throws in the final minute and Alabama’s Kira Lewis, Jr. went one-of-two from the line to make it a two-point game with three seconds to play.
  • Starks quickly brought the ball down the court and knocked down the three at the buzzer.
  • The victory is A&M’s eighth in the series and first in Tuscaloosa since 2008.

TEAM NOTES

  • The Aggies committed a season-low three turnovers in the game, limiting themselves to single digits in the category for just the second time this season.
  • Despite Alabama taking the rebounding advantage, 45-38, A&M dominated in the paint on the offensive end, outscoring Alabama 48-30.
  • The Aggies stuck with the same starting lineup of Jay Jay ChandlerWendell MitchellTJ StarksSavion Flagg, and Christian Mekowulu for the second time this season (1-1).

INDIVIDUAL NOTES

  • Junior Josh Nebo set a new career high with 21 points, going 10-for-12 from the field, adding four blocks and seven rebounds.
  • Junior Wendell Mitchell helped lead the way, putting up 10 of his 18 points in the first half and adding six rebounds.
  • Sophomore Savion Flagg came alive in the second half, scoring 14 of his 16 points and grabbing all seven rebounds in the final 20 minutes.
  • Sophomore TJ Starks nailed the game-winning three to finish with 12 points and score in double figures for the fifth straight game.
  • Billy Kennedy is now 144-105 in his eight-year tenure at Texas A&M and 355-284 in his 21 seasons as a head coach.

UP NEXT
Texas A&M will return to action Wednesday, Jan. 16 as they host nationally ranked Auburn. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.

Story courtesy of Texas A&M Athletics 

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Posted by on Jan 14 2019. Filed under Sports.
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