Starks’ 3-pointer gives Texas A&M win at buzzer

The Sentinel-Record - - SPORTS - CODY ESTREMERA

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

With 3.4 sec­onds left, T.J. 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.”

The Ag­gies won their first SEC game this sea­son, end­ing a three-game los­ing streak. Texas A&M shot 22 of 30 for 73 per­cent from the free-throw line, while Alabama shot 18 of

29 for 62 per­cent.

Petty, Alabama’s best 3-point shooter, found his stroke. The sopho­more hit a sea­son-high six 3-point­ers.

Hall fin­ished with four blocks, ty­ing his sea­son high. His first block of the game was his 200th of his ca­reer, mak­ing him the sev­enth player in Alabama his­tory to pass 200.

Texas A&M re­turns home on Wed­nes­day to face No. 11 Auburn. Alabama will play at Mis­souri on Wed­nes­day.

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