2018 NCAA Tournament: John Petty finds shooting stroke when Alabama basketball needed him most

Alabama basketball-Virginia Tech-John Petty-Collin Sexton-Avery Johnson-NCAA

PITTSBURGH — There was a running joke all season of John Petty having two different shooting personalities.

Home John Petty could easily catch fire and knock down tough catch-and-shoot 3-pointers inside Coleman Coliseum. Road John Petty was at one point shooting less than 20 percent away from Tuscaloosa.

The one thing the two had in common? They never stopped shooting as any good shooter knows you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.

Petty drained 6 3-pointers, and Alabama needed every one of them to hold off Virginia Tech for a 86-83 win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night. He finished the night with 20 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists.

“It feel like I’m in shoot around shooting by myself,” Petty said of his mindset. “When I get in that type of mode, I feel like no one can stop me from shooting the ball. I’m gone always have my eyes locked on my target, and I’m gone hit.”

All of his threes mattered, but two came at the perfect time. Virginia Tech appeared to be headed into the halftime break with a five-point lead, but a three from Petty as time expired in the opening half kept the game at 43-41.

After building a 70-64 lead with 5:10 left in the contest, Alabama went stagnant and committed some bonehead turnovers. The Hokies cut the Crimson Tide’s lead to two points at the 2:47 mark, and it seemed like Alabama had lost its mojo. But Petty’s confidence never wavered as he caught a pass from Collin Sexton and let off a three that dropped cleanly through the nets to push Alabama’s lead back to five.

“I just knew it was cash,” Petty said of his dagger.

It was Petty who kept Alabama basketball within striking distance in the first half with timely 3-pointers to halt any hint of a Virginia Tech run. He kept it going in the second half with more hot shooting.

Petty’s teammates did their part by encouraging him to shoot and finding him for open looks.

“We told him from the start to just shoot the ball,” Alabama forward Donta Hall said. “‘You’re a legit shooter so just have confidence in your shoot’ and that’s what he’s been doing.”

Alabama advanced to the Round of 32 to take on No.1 seed Villanova on Saturday in PPG Paints Arena.  The game will tip at 12:20 p.m. ET/11:20 a.m. CT and will air on CBS.

For at least one night, Road John Petty was dead. Petty and every Alabama fan hopes it stays that way.

“I’m gone try to bring that same energy in to here on Saturday,” Petty said.

The post 2018 NCAA Tournament: John Petty finds shooting stroke when Alabama basketball needed him most appeared first on SEC Country.

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