The Alabama Crimson Tide escaped a close one at home against the UT-Arlington Mavericks with the help for freshman guard Collin Sexton and the defense of Herbert Jones.

A late drive to the basket by Sexton and a defensive stop the Crimson Tide pulled away with a 77-76 victory against one of the best teams in the Sun Belt conference with some valuable NBA talent. Sexton finished the game with 29 points and took over on offense in the second half.

In the first half, the Mavericks used their experience and length to their advantage early in the game with forward Kevin Hervey leading the way with his 15 points, 6-6 from the field including three 3-pointers. Guard Erick Neal had 5 points at halftime and added 8 assists, the Crimson Tide had five total as a team.

UT-Arlington's offensive attack was too much to handle for the Crimson Tide in the first half with the Mavericks shooting 63 percent from the field and 46 percent from behind the arc.

Despite being down as many as 10, with Hervey on the bench and the Crimson Tide's defense picking up momentum, Sexton led an offensive rally to cut the lead down to 46-41 as the team headed to the locker room. Sexton had 15 points in the half followed by fellow freshman John Petty with 6, who finished with 8 points.

It was a tale of two half as the Crimson Tide fought back into the ball game with the help on defense led by Herbert Jones and Donta Hall.

Jones had four charges in the game and although it doesn't show up in the stat sheet, it kept the ball in Alabama's hands on offense throughout the second half. Jones has the defensive ability to be on some All-SEC Defensive teams at the end of the season and throughout his career. He finished the game with seven points, nine rebounds, and four steals in 34 minutes.

If John Petty can add consistency on offense, and Sexton can play on-ball defense like he did on the last play of the game, with Jones off the bench these three freshman could be something special in Tuscaloosa. With the talent Avery Johnson has on this team, winning close games like this one will be huge against non-conference opponents and will help the maintain a spot in the top 25.


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