TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams told Quenton Jackson and the Aggies at Monday’s practice that he’d get the starting nod against Alabama.
Two days later, Jackson rewarded the decision and the logic behind it.
He scored a season-high 20 points and made four straight free throws over the final 18 seconds to lift Texas A&M to a 74-68, come-from-behind victory over the Crimson Tide on Wednesday night.
“He gets fouled at a high rate for our team,” Williams said. “Because we’re so deficient offensively, it’s the only way we can cheat the numbers, is to see if we can hurry up and get to the bonus (foul situation).”
Jackson also made a key 3-pointer in the final minute to help the Aggies (13-12, 7-6 Southeastern Conference) complete the rally from a nine-point deficit early in the second half.
Kira Lewis Jr. hit a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left to keep the Crimson Tide (14-12, 6-7) alive, down 70-68. Jackson went back to the foul line for a second pair of foul shots, then Jaden Shackelford drew a foul on a 3-point attempt with 3.8 seconds left.
Shackelford, who had a big night with 24 points and six 3-pointers, missed all three to end the Tide’s hopes.
Making just his sixth start, Jackson capped a late 12-0 run with a 3-pointer over Lewis. with the shot clock winding down. That was good for a 68-62 lead in the final minute.
He made 13 of 14 free throws for the SEC’s lowest scoring team after replacing Andre Gordon in the starting lineup.
“He had earned the right to start, not necessarily because Dre has done anything wrong,”Williams said of Jackson. “Dre turned his ankle Monday at practice. Literally like 10 minutes before he turned his ankle, I had told the team that Q was going to start.”
Josh Nebo had 14 points and eight rebounds and Savion Flagg scored 12 points for the Aggies.
“I don’t think we gave the effort the last four minutes on the defensive end that we needed to win the game,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said.
Shackelford has made 18 3-pointers and scored 78 points in the past three games. Lewis Jr. had 16 points for Alabama, including 13 after halftime. John Petty Jr. scored 11.
The Tide had its chances in the final minute.
Alabama had missed four straight 3-pointers down the stretch before Alex Reese renewed hope by making one with 41 seconds left.
The Tide got the ball back when Flagg was called for a foul on the inbounds play but Lewis missed a potential tying 3.
Alabama got another chance to even it up after Emanuel Miller missed two free throws with 30 seconds left. But Shackelford missed a 3 after a pump fake from the right corner and Jackson effectively iced it at the line.
Alabama spotted the Aggies the first eight points but hit four straight 3-pointers for a 12-0 run and took a 34-28 lead into halftime. Shackelford’s 3-pointer after the break pushed the lead to nine.
The Aggies had a big edge in free throws, making 21 of 27. Alabama attempted nine and made just four.
Texas A&M got its second straight win. Held the nation’s No. 2 scoring team to 15 points below its season average. Outrebounded the Tide 37-29. Alabama is still raining 3-pointers after making 35 in two games last week. The Tide was 16 of 44 (36%) in this one but attempted only 15 from inside the arc.
Texas A&M’s first 11 wins came in holding opponents to 65 points or less. The Aggies, who came in second in the SEC in scoring defense, won despite allowing 69 to Georgia and 68 to Alabama.
Texas A&M hosts Mississippi State Saturday afternoon.
Alabama visits Mississippi on Saturday night.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25