The top two teams in the Southeastern Conference close out the regular season when No. 2 Alabama visits No. 24 Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon in College Station, Texas.
There is not much at stake thanks to an incredible second-half rally Wednesday by the Crimson Tide (26-4, 16-1 SEC). They fought back from a 17-point deficit in the second half against Auburn by using a 16-0 run that started midway through the frame.
With Jahvon Quinerly leading the way with 24 points, Alabama coach Nate Oats saw his club win 90-85 in overtime and end up cutting down the nets to celebrate its second SEC regular-season title in three years.
It was the third consecutive close shave by the Crimson Tide and star freshman Brandon Miller. Alabama has won four straight, with the last three decided by a total of 10 points.
“Listen, I just couldn’t be more proud of this group,” Oats said after the Crimson Tide finished 15-0 at home, their first perfect showing since 2010-11. “… Winning the SEC is not an easy thing to do. I mean, look at the teams in this league. It’s a great league.”
Locked in as the No. 2 seed in the SEC tourney, coach Buzz Williams’ Aggies (22-8, 14-3) have been a large part of that greatness.
The Aggies’ breakout season has been the talk of the conference, but Alabama’s win over Auburn deprived them of a shot at splitting the crown with a home win Saturday. That was a real possibility with 10 minutes left in Tuscaloosa and the Crimson Tide down 66-49.
On Tuesday at woeful Ole Miss, which owns a 3-14 mark in conference play and relieved fifth-year coach Kermit Davis of his duties on Feb. 24, the home side gave the Aggies all they could handle from the opening tip.
Playing under interim coach Win Case, Ole Miss jumped out to a double-digit lead at 20-8. But the Aggies scratched back, took the lead for the second time on Wade Taylor IV’s trey at 4:06 of the first half and never trailed again in a 69-61 win.
“We went from (12) down to the lead by halftime,” Williams said. “We were able to change the rhythm to being more conducive for us and who we are.”
Though Alabama has shown signs of weakness recently — it is just 11 for 53 (20.8 percent) the last two games from long distance — Williams said his team will need a better effort against the newly minted champs.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do before Saturday,” said Williams. “I know they’ve got the best players. I know they’re No. 1 in the league in offense and defense. I haven’t had time to look at them yet, but I know that much about them.”
In a series that features just 22 meetings though it dates back to 1958, Texas A&M trails the Crimson Tide 10-12. However, the Aggies have won four straight and are 6-2 in the series on their home court.
–Field Level Media