Tech closes season at NCAA Tournament against Alabama

Alabama (20-15) 414586
Virginia Tech (21-12) 434083
  • Pittsburgh, Pa. (PPG Paints Arena) - 18,715
  • High Points: 19 - Justin Robinson
  • High Rebounds: 4 - P.J. Horne

PITTSBURGH – In a back-and-forth affair on Thursday night, the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team fell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to ninth-seeded Alabama, 86-83, inside PPG Paints Arena.

The Hokies (21-11, 10-8 ACC) conclude the 2017-18 season with their third straight 20-win season, while the Crimson Tide (20-15, 8-10 SEC) advance to the second round against one-seeded Villanova on Saturday.

Three players scored in double figures for Tech, including Justin Robinson (19 points), Justin Bibbs (17) and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (15). Tech shot 55 percent (30 of 54) from the field and Alabama shot 60 percent (30 of 50).

The game started off with a bang, as the two squads combined for 27 points in the opening five minutes. Tech took a 15-12 lead into the first media timeout in large part due to Alexander-Walker’s two 3-pointers and Robinson’s three assists.

The high-scoring affair seesawed for the next 15 minutes, leading all the way up until halftime as no team had a greater lead than five points. Both teams shot north of a blistering 59 percent.

Tech went into the locker room with a 43-41 advantage, marking its most points in a half since Feb. 17 when it scored 43 points against Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Things remained the same in the second half with both teams stopping each other’s short-lived runs, until Alabama’s Collin Sexton hit a 15-foot jumper at the 5:10 mark to give the Tide their biggest lead of the game at the time, six points.

Robinson answered, though, getting to the lane and finishing, then Alexander-Walker turned in a bucket of his own to trim the deficit to two, forcing an Alabama timeout.

The Tide answered back with a deep 3-pointer right before the shot clock expired with two minutes left. Robinson answered, again, getting inside the paint and to the foul line, hitting both free-throw attempts to cut it to a one-possession game at 75-72.

Alabama would go on to make seven free throws down the stretch to close the contest. It was led by Sexton, who scored a game-high 25 points and dished out six assists.


• Tech falls to 6-10 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 4-2 on the season in games decided by five points or less.

• The Hokies’ 83 points were the most in regulation at the NCAA Tournament in school history.

• Tech controlled the paint, outscoring the Tide 40-34, and points off of turnovers 21-13.

• Guard Devin Wilson finishes his career with 414 assists, the sixth-most in program history. Bibbs closes his time wearing the maroon and orange with the 17th-most points in Tech history, owning 1,457.

• Freshman Wabissa Bede scored seven points, his most since Dec. 10 against Maryland Eastern-Shore. The Massachusetts native also chipped in two assists.


“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to repay them for all they’ve done for our program,” Williams shared on seniors Bibbs and Wilson.


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