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Sexton leads No. 24 Alabama past Louisiana Tech 77-74

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Collin Sexton and Dazon Ingram were hard to stop on drives to the basket, and there was no defending their free throws.

Sexton made four foul shots over the final 8 seconds, and Ingram had two big ones also, to lift No. 24 Alabama to a come-from-behind 77-74 victory over Louisiana Tech on Wednesday night.

“We can make free throws and we know that,” Ingram said. “We work hard in practice on making them and if we don’t make them then Coach Avery (Johnson’s) going to make us run. We just had to really lock in when they were needed down the stretch.”

The Crimson Tide (6-1) overcame an 11-point deficit over the last 14 minutes and held off the previously unbeaten Bulldogs (5-1).

Louisiana Tech’s Jacobi Harris missed a 3-pointer from the right wing and Jalen Harris grabbed the rebound and hit a layup with 2 seconds left to make it a 1-point game. Riley Norris heaved the inbounds pass across midcourt to Sexton, who made two free throws with just over 1 second left.

Ingram and Sexton, the Southeastern Conference’s leading scorer, led Alabama with 22 points each. Ingram made two foul shots with 27 seconds remaining and Alabama hit its last 13 free throws.

Johnson praised Ingram especially and also Sexton “for the way they dominated getting to the basket and making shots for us and making good decisions.” They were especially successful in the final minutes at the line.

“(Ingram) wasn’t perfect but boy he sure made them when we needed it,” Johnson said.

After Ingram’s makes, Louisiana Tech’s Joniah White grabbed an offensive rebound and drew the foul on the other end, making both foul shots with 9 seconds to play.

Louisiana Tech’s Derric Jean, who had hit the game-winning 3-pointer against Evansville, fired a Hail Mary pass on the final sequence. Harris just got off a potential tying 3-pointer that bounced off the rim.

“It’s a play that we practice,” Bulldogs coach Eric Konkol said. “We didn’t have a timeout and said if he makes the second free throw this is what we need to do. We really tried to get a tip out to one of our shooters at the arc. I thought it was down. It was close. I’m not sure if his toes were on the line or not. I know he was right there. They executed exactly the way we practice.”

Donta Hall had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Tide.

Daquan Bracey scored 21 points to lead Louisiana Tech. Jacobi Boykins had 14 points and Harris and Jy’lan Washington 12 apiece.

Alabama scored the final eight points of the first half, cutting a 10-point deficit to 38-37. The Bulldogs came out of the locker room hot after that with a 10-0 run.

Alabama was coming off an 89-84 loss to No. 12 Minnesota after going the final 10-plus minutes with three players due to injury and ejections of the entire bench. Sexton set an Alabama freshman record with 40 points in that game.

BIG PICTURE

Louisiana Tech: Led most of the way in a bid for its first regular-season win over a ranked team since 1984. First true road game of the season. It was the program’s first game against a ranked opponent since 2011.

Alabama: Is 6-1 for the first time since 2012-13.. Alabama didn’t lead from the opening 2 minutes until the final 6. Herbert Jones fouled out. Sexton was 6-of-19 shooting.

FOUL SHOTS: Alabama made 16 of 18 free throws in the second half (88.9 percent). Sexton finished 9 of 11 from the line and Ingram was 13 of 17.

“They’re tough, tough drivers,” Konkol said. “We shut them down at times, but we defended and fouled them at times as well. They were able to shoot a whole lot of free throws and that hurt, especially Ingram.”

MISSING 3s: Louisiana Tech made just 4 of 23 3-point attempts and missed all 11 attempts after halftime. Boykins was 2 of 11 from beyond the arc.

UP NEXT

Louisiana Tech hosts Division II Miles College on Saturday night.

Alabama continues a three-game home stand against UCF on Sunday.

___

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

Alabama staffer resigns amid links to FBI investigation, Collin Sexton

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Alabama has parted ways with a men’s basketball administrator Kobie Baker following an internal review, the school announced.

The school claimed that it did not find any NCAA violations during the review, however that does not appear to be accurate. According to reports, Baker’s firing came as a result of his appearance in the documents that were released by the FBI on Tuesday.

Baker is “Staff Member 1” in the FBI complaints. He is alleged to have accepted $15,000 in total from Martin Blazer, who is the cooperating witness in the complaint, in an effort to get players in the Alabama program to retain Blazer’s services as a financial advisor.

In late August, a meeting was set up between Baker, Blazer and a suit-designer that was arrested on Tuesday to meet with a highly-rated Alabama freshman at a restaurant in Atlanta. Collin Sexton, a top ten prospect in the Class of 2017 and a freshman at Alabama, is from Atlanta.

Baker was alleged to have received $10,000 from Blazer at that meeting.

Prior to his role with Alabama, Baker was an enforcement officer with the NCAA.

Alabama loses Nick King, Brandon Austin to transfer

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Alabama is losing a pair to transfer as junior Nick King and sophomore Brandon Austin are planning to transfer, according to a release.

The 6-foot-7 King is expected to graduate and be eligible to play anywhere right away as a graduate transfer while the 6-foot-5 Austin will likely have to sit out a season before playing.

King started his career at Memphis but transferred to Alabama. A former starter at small forward, King played the first seven games of the season until a lung infection shut down his season. He averaged 3.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game before shutting it down.

A former top-50 recruit from the Class of 2013, King will look to jumpstart his career elsewhere during his final season of college basketball.

Austin only appeared in six games and played a total of 44 minutes this season as he also dealt with injuries like an early bone bruise.

The Crimson Tide are bringing in one of the best recruiting classes in the country next season as their freshmen could see a lot of playing time. So it comes as no surprise that players like King and Austin would transfer to assure more playing time.

No. 15 Kentucky takes down Alabama

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Kentucky survived foul trouble and a late Alabama rally as the No. 15 Wildcats held on for a 67-58 SEC road win on Saturday afternoon.

Coming off of a recent sluggish stretch that included a blowout loss at Florida and a poor defensive effort in a home win over LSU, the Wildcats (20-5, 10-2) had an impressive early surge to build a lead as big as 18 as they led by double-digits for much of the game.

Things started to turn when Kentucky freshman big man Bam Adebayo (14 points, seven rebounds) fouled out with a little over six minutes left, giving the Crimson Tide a sliver of hope. Alabama cut it to within six with under two minutes left but sophomore Isaiah Briscoe (11 points, 11 rebounds) made a lot of key buckets down the stretch to keep the Crimson Tide down.

Freshman Malik Monk (17 points) had a so-so shooting game but ended up with 14 points while senior Derek Willis had a key three-pointer out of a timeout with just over a minute left to effectively seal the game.

Kentucky only shot 21 percent from three-point range but their defense looked way better than recent performances as they closed out harder on shooters and helped force 16 Alabama turnovers.

Alabama (14-9, 7-4) shot themselves in the foot with a lot of missed free throws and turnovers as they did everything they could to dig out of the early hole. The slower tempo certainly helped the Crimson Tide but shooting 9-for-26 from the free-throw line is going to kill you.

Braxton Key led the Crimson Tide with 21 points while Dazon Ingram added 12 points. Alabama lost this hard-fought battle to Kentucky, but they played hard in front of a sold-out crowd that got to see some of this team’s young talent.

Alabama keeps recruiting momentum going in Class of 2017 with another commitment

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Alabama kept its recruiting momentum going late this week by landing its third commitment in two days on Friday afternoon.

After receiving pledges from Class of 2017 four-stars Alex Reese and Herb Jones on Thursday, three-star center Galin Smith joined the Crimson Tide with his commitment.

The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Smith hails from Clinton, Mississippi and gives the Alabama Class of 2017 an imposing three frontcourt players. All three commitments are 6-foot-7 and taller and the trio gives head coach Avery Johnson a lot of incoming size and talent in the class.

No. 16 Kentucky rolls Alabama 85-59 in SEC Tournament

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Despite statistical proof that playing Alabama brought out his best this season, Kentucky forward Alex Poythress summed up his outstanding play against the Crimson Tide as pure coincidence.

Wherever his motivation came from, the No. 16 Wildcats benefited.

Jamal Murray scored 23 points, Poythress made a career-best four 3-pointers and Kentucky had an easy time in an 85-59 rout of Alabama on Friday night in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Playing about 50 miles southeast of his Clarksville, Tennessee, home, Poythress put on an offensive show in his final SEC tournament with 7-of-8 shooting including 4 of 5 from long range for 20 points. It was his third 20-point game this season and first since posting a career-best 25 at Alabama on Jan. 9.

Not that that meant anything.

“Sometimes it happens, sometimes it don’t, you know,” said Poythress, who averaged 19.6 points in three games against Alabama this season. “Everybody was just great offensively. We played a complete game today.”

Murray added perimeter shots as second-seeded Kentucky finished 13 of 22 from behind the arc to beat the 10th-seeded Crimson Tide (18-14) for the third time this season. The Wildcats advanced to Saturday’s semifinal against the Georgia-South Carolina winner.

Tyler Ulis added 17 points for the Wildcats, who beat the Crimson Tide by an average margin of 22 points this season.

Arthur Edwards had 20 points and Retin Obasohan 18, but Alabama couldn’t keep pace with the hot-shooting Wildcats.

The Crimson Tide certainly had no answer for Poythress, especially when he stepped out behind the arc.

“We came into the game trying to minimize his success in the paint and wanted to contest him at three,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said, “but we didn’t expect him to shoot the ball like Jamal Murray. He made some shots. He had it going.”

Kentucky’s postseason prospects were already set, and the aim this weekend is to earn the highest possible seeding when the field is announced on Sunday. The Wildcats took an impressive first step toward being high in the bracket with 55 percent shooting from the field.

Alabama’s postseason chances remain up in the air, but the Crimson Tide’s second game in as many nights ended with 42 percent shooting and 13 turnovers. They were also outrebounded 31-27.

Kentucky wasn’t so good at the start, making just 4 of first 11 shots and showing a little rust from having not played because of their double bye. The Wildcats regrouped to hit 10 of their final 15 first-half shots to lead 37-27 at the break and were even better from behind the arc (6 of 10), with Poythress making a couple to help them gain some distance.

The Crimson Tide meanwhile struggled more for baskets than the previous night against Mississippi, making just 10 of 26 from the field. Three-point shooting (5 of 12) provided a bright spot, and Alabama had just one fewer rebound than the Wildcats but needed big games from nearly everybody in order to pull off the upset.

Even at their best, the Tide faced an uphill battle keeping pace with Kentucky’s outside game that stayed hot in the second half. Ulis made back-to-back shots before Murray added one to build a 55-37 lead, and the Wildcats were well on their way toward a semifinal appearance.

“We shot the ball well,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

TIP-INS

Alabama: The Crimson Tide finished 9 of 25 from 3-point range.

Kentucky: Dominique Hawkins and Skal Labissiere each added seven points for the Wildcats, who also had 18 assists.

UP NEXT:

Alabama: Awaiting postseason announcement.

Kentucky: Faces Georgia-South Carolina winner in Saturday’s semifinal.