Starks' 3-pointer gives Texas A&M win at buzzer
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By CODY ESTREMERA
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: The Aggies won their first SEC game this season, ending a three-game losing streak.
Alabama: Petty, the team's best 3-point shooter, found his stroke. The sophomore hit a season-high six 3-pointers.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
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 shot 22 of 30 for 73 percent from the free-throw line, while Alabama shot 18 of 29 for 62 percent.
Texas A&M: Returns home on Wednesday to face No. 11 Auburn.
Alabama: Plays at Missouri on Wednesday.
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Updated January 12, 2019