Alabama balance holds off Texas A&M 61-60
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Alabama's year hasn't gone as it had hoped, but Crimson Tide guard Levi Randolph had reason to smile at the end of the regular season.
''We expect if we do the little things well, we'll get the win,'' Randolph said.
Alabama did the big things well, too, in a 61-60 toppling of Texas A&M on Saturday in Reed Arena. Retin Obasohan scored 12 points and three other Alabama players scored in double figures.
''A&M is a very solid defensive team,'' Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. ''They make it difficult for you, so we knew we needed to do a good job of sharing the basketball.''
Randolph, Jimmie Taylor and Rodney Cooper each tallied 11 points in about as balanced an offensive attack as possible.
The Aggies, trailing 61-60 with 10.7 second remaining, turned to shooting guard Peyton Allen following a time out, but the freshman missed a 3-point attempt from the right side of the key with three seconds remaining.
''I trust Peyton to shoot that `3' every time,'' said guard Jordan Green, who along with forward Jalen Jones paced the Aggies with 13 points each.
Alabama (18-13, 8-10 SEC), despite losing three of its four previous games, continued its mastery of NCAA tournament hopeful A&M this season. The teams opened SEC play with a 65-44 Alabama victory on Jan. 6 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. This time, the Crimson Tide overcame a 36-22 halftime deficit to prevail on A&M's home court for the first time with both as SEC members.
''For us in the first half, it seemed like everything that could go wrong went wrong,'' Grant said. ''I'm proud of our guys, because they never wavered.''
A little more than three minutes into the second half, Alabama sliced the Aggies' lead to 39-33 on an Obasohan layup. Neither team led by more than six points the rest of the way, with seven lead changes in that span.
''Give Alabama credit, they came out as the aggressor,'' A&M coach Billy Kennedy said of the Crimson Tide's strong start to the second half. ''Our guys played back on their heels at times, for whatever reason. We had our opportunities, but just didn't get it done. . You've got to put teams away.''
The Aggies (20-10, 11-7) played without leading scorer Danuel House (14.8 points per game), who injured his foot late in the Aggies' 66-62 loss at Florida on Tuesday.
''That definitely hurt us,'' Kennedy said of House's absence. ''He's a leader on our team, and makes big plays for us offensively and defensively.''
Kennedy said he's ''not sure'' when House might return to the lineup. A&M is trying to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011, and for the first time under Kennedy, but the Aggies closed out the regular season with two losses, putting a dent in their chances.
''I can't control all of that right now,'' Kennedy said of any postseason speculation. ''I know we have a very good basketball team.''
Alabama: A big difference in the game occurred in second-chance points, with Alabama holding a 16-2 advantage. ... Alabama also outscored A&M 34-20 in points in the paint.
Texas A&M: Davonte Fitzgerald started in place of Danuel House and finished with six points, in making 2-of-6 3-pointers.
''We need to start all over again. It's a new season.'' A&M senior forward Kourtney Roberson.
A&M's Peyton Allen made 3-of-5 3-pointers in the first half, but missed all four of his long-range attempts in the second half, including a potential game-winner. . A&M had only two attempts at the free throw line in the second half (making one), after making 11 of 13 in the first half. Alabama had eight free throw attempts in each half, making a combined nine.
Texas A&M and Alabama both compete in the Southeastern Conference tournament, starting Wednesday in Nashville.