Sexton leads Alabama past Virginia Tech in first round of NCAA Tournament

Hokies hit the hardwood at in Pittsburgh for big dance

The Alabama Crimson Tide's return to the Big Dance for the first time since 2012 did not disappoint.

Here's what it comes down to for Virginia Tech: move the ball around, use the variety of weapons to create and make shots and tire Alabama out so the Crimson Tide can't go on the extended scoring runs.

The Crimson Tide's victory came almost a dozen years to the day of its last NCAA Tournament win when Mark Gottfried's Alabama squad knocked off Marquette 90-85 as a No. 10 seed on March 16, 2006. If John Petty (20 points on 6-of-9 shooting) can have another huge game, they'll have a chance. But Williams also knew Sexton, who entered Thursday's game averaging 25.5 points on 52 percent shooting over his previous four games, could stretch that defense like few other players. For the season, he led the Crimson Tide by averaging 19 points per game. Virginia Tech didn't get closer than one possession until Tyrie Jackson's tip-in at the buzzer, although a controversial call played a part in that. The Tide later ripped off a string of four straight SEC wins and another where they won three of four, before dropping the final five games of the regular season. Southern cut the margin to six early in the fourth quarter but Alabama went on a 10-2 run to put the game away.

The Hokies average 79.7 points and have five double-figure scorers, while the Crimson Tide averages 72.4 with both teams allowing at least 70 points a contest.

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.

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

He had two untimely turnovers in the second half, but Dazon Ingram had a solid game with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.

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Alabama vs Virginia Tech start time is at 8:20 PM ET.

Villanova connected on 14 of 27 3-point attempts (.519) in its win over Radford. Virginia Tech lost to Notre Dame in the first round of the ACC Tourney. From there, Alabama would knock down 9-of-11 free throws to seal the win. That play also led to VT head coach Buzz Williams getting a technical foul for throwing paper onto the court.

Wilson has experienced the lows at Virginia Tech - two last-place finishes as a starting point guard his freshman and sophomore seasons.

Alabama needed all of it. Sexton made some great plays, like he usually does.

Kerry Blackshear Jr. made one of two free throws to give Tech a 64-63 lead with 8:07 left.

The Hokies, making their first back-to-back trip to the tournament since the 1985-86 season, initially looked more than prepared, throwing multiple players at Sexton from the outset.

(Wichita) - Khadeen Carrington shot 11-of-13 from the free throw line and poured in 26 points to send Seton Hall to a 94-83 first round win over NC State.

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