NCAA Basketball: Alabama at Texas A&M

No. 24 Texas A&M ended the regular season with a statement, knocking off No. 2 Alabama 67-61 for its first victory against an Associated Press top-two opponent in program history. Wade Taylor IV led the Aggies with 28 points, and Texas A&M held Alabama to just 7 of 36 shooting from 3-point range.

Alabama (26-5, 16-2 SEC) erased a 15-point deficit and took its first lead of the game with under five minutes remaining on a Jahvon Quinerly 3-pointer. But the Aggies (23-8, 15-3) promptly used an 8-0 run of their own to seize control again. Further complicating matters for the Crimson Tide, star freshman forward Brandon Miller fouled out with 1:59 remaining and the Aggies holding a 59-57 lead.

Miller led the Crimson Tide with 19 points but made just 7 of 23 shots from the floor and was just 2 of 12 from beyond the arc.

The win sends the Aggies into next week's SEC Tournament as the first Texas A&M team to go undefeated at home in conference play since the 1979-80 squad. The Aggies have now won 17 of 20 games since a 6-5 start, making them one of the hottest teams in the nation. 

Texas A&M entered Saturday's game as a projected No. 6 seed for the NCAA Tournament in Jerry Palm's Bracketology, and the win makes the Aggies 6-5 in Quad 1 games. Alabama remains a projected No. 1 seed, according to Palm, but may no longer be the top overall seed depending on how the rest of the weekend's action plays out.

Cracks showing for Alabama

In its first 14 SEC games, Alabama outscored league foes by 20.9 points per game and won 11 of those games by double digits. The Crimson Tide rose to No. 1 in the AP poll for just the second time in program history and looked invincible when at their best. Road losses against Oklahoma and Tennessee seemed like mere aberrations for a team that overwhelmed most opponents.

But in the last four games since revelations about Miller's connection to the January shooting death of a woman near the Alabama campus were brought to light, the Tide squeaked out three close wins and now lost a game that it was favored to win. First came an overtime win against a bad South Carolina team, then came an 86-83 home victory against an Arkansas team the Crimson Tide beat by 15 on the road in January. Then, came an overtime victory over Auburn on Wednesday. That win clinched the SEC regular season title for Alabama, but it required a big second-half rally and was the latest example of this team losing a step amid a tidal wave of negative publicity surrounding Miller and the program.

The Crimson Tide were finally burned Saturday. While it is still the No. 1 seed for the SEC Tournament and a likely No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament, Alabama needs to get its mojo back if it is going to reach the potential that it so often flashed throughout this season.

Texas A&M's turnaround 

Texas A&M would have been the No. 2 seed for the SEC Tournament regardless of Saturday's outcome, but the victory nonetheless stands out as perhaps the most significant of coach Buzz Williams' four-year tenure.

The Aggies narrowly missed the NCAA Tournament field last season and struggled to begin this year, falling all the way to No. 120 in the NET during a poor start that featured Quad 4 losses against Murray State and Wofford before Christmas. With significant ground to make up, A&M lived outside the top 25 for most of the season and only cemented a spot on the right side of the bubble in the last couple of weeks.

Taylor has been key to the turnaround -- as has Tyrece Radford. Taylor's 28 points against Alabama marked a new career-high and Radford's 21 was his most productive outing since Jan. 25. Armed with excellent guard play and a team full of gritty players who know their roles, this team is on an absolute heater and could be in line for significant postseason success.