COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M finally feels comfortable that it's in the NCAA Tournament. Junior center Tyler Davis scored 20 points, including a key dunk late in the game, and the Aggies defeated Alabama 68-66 on Saturday.

The Aggies (20-11, 9-9 Southeastern Conference) closed out the regular season with a three-game winning streak, while the Crimson Tide (17-14, 8-10) ended by losing five straight.

No. 8 seed A&M will face No. 9 seed Alabama again at noon (CST) Thursday in the second round of the SEC Tournament in St. Louis.

"Twenty wins with the schedule we played, I think we're an NCAA Tournament team and I think Alabama should be in the NCAA Tournament," A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. "I have that much respect for our league."

The Aggies led 54-53 with 3:47 remaining when A&M forward D.J. Hogg sank a 3-pointer from the far left corner. Following an Alabama turnover and a timeout, the Aggies increased the lead to 59-53 on the dunk by Davis in traffic with 3:10 left.

The game was delayed for a few minutes with 32 seconds remaining and A&M leading 63-59 after A&M freshman guard T.J. Starks shoved Alabama freshman guard Collin Sexton in the head following some heated words.

Sexton drew a technical and Starks was ejected. A&M's Admon Gilder already was going to the line for two free throws at the time of the exchange, and he shot the two technical free throws as well, in making 3-of-4.

"We can't handle things that way, that's unacceptable," Kennedy said of Starks getting physical with Sexton.

Gilder said between the chatty Starks and just-as-chatty Sexton "that's a nice little matchup of back-and-forth talking."

Alabama coach Avery Johnson said officials told him they believed Sexton initiated the exchange, why Sexton also was hit with a technical.

"We know we have to stay away from that," Johnson said of Sexton losing his cool. "That's not smart basketball."

Sexton led Alabama with a game-high 23 points, while Davis grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. The Aggies reached at least 20 victories for a third time in Kennedy's seven seasons. For its part Alabama will try and figure out what's gone wrong late in a once-promising season.

"Obviously we're not playing our best basketball right now," Johnson said. "We need to go to the SEC Tournament and try to improve our resume a little bit more."

BIG PICTURE

Alabama: The Crimson Tide, once considered a lock for the NCAA Tournament, have given the selection committee plenty to mull over the next week. Johnson has said "the world is not coming to an end for Alabama basketball" based on the losing streak. Perhaps not, but it might be for this season concerning the postseason's primary tournament.

Texas A&M: The Aggies have been on a big-time roller-coaster ride this season in SEC play. They started league action by losing five in a row, and their conference run also includes a losing streak of three games and winning streaks of four and three games. They've won three in a row to close out the regular season, so at least they're springing into the postseason on a positive.

STAT OF THE DAY

Both teams were awful from the 3-point line: The Aggies finished 4 for 21 (19 percent) and the Crimson Tide weren't much better at 5 of 24 (20.8 percent).

MILESTONE

When Admon Gilder made the third of his four late free throws, the junior became the 37th player in A&M history to score at least 1,000 points. He finished with 14 points, exactly what he needed to reach 1,000.

HIGHLIGHT REEL

Bulky A&M center Tyler Davis isn't known for his agility, but his deft spin move in the lane late in the first half for a basket prompted one of the afternoon's loudest roars.

HE SAID IT

"It was a freshman mistake. He'll learn from it."

Gilder on teammate T.J. Starks shoving Alabama's Collin Sexton upside the head late in the tight contest.

UP NEXT

No. 8 seed A&M will face No. 9 seed Alabama again at noon (CST) Thursday in the second round of the SEC Tournament in St. Louis.