After a big win Saturday night against LSU, Alabama took a huge step backwards while visiting Auburn on Thursday night. The Tigers secured their FIRST SEC win of the year, blasting the Tide 74-55. Auburn had lost 16 conference games in a row since beating 'Bama at home last season. The Tide has not won one game away from Tuscaloosa this year.
The game, originally scheduled for Wednesday, was moved to Thursday because of the winter storm that crippled the southeast on Tuesday. The team was not able to leave until Thursday morning for the trip to the plains.
This one started ugly, got a little better, and then much, much worse. AU jumped out to a 12-0 lead on the way to a 30-22 half time margin. As custom, 'Bama went several minutes deep into the game before scoring. Trevor Releford had two quick fouls and was forced to sit out several minutes of the first half. Shannon Hale had seven points at intermission and Releford added five.
'Bama came out in the second half and quickly cut the lead to five before the wheels fell off. For some reason the team switched from the zone that was successful late in the first half to man to man. Auburn's Chris Denson and KT Harrell continually torched their defenders and combined for 55 of the Tigers 74 points on the night. Denson finished with a career high 32 and Harrell had 23. Releford, as usual, led the Tide with 15 points. Hale finished with nine, and Retin Obasohan, playing off the bench after missing the last two games with an injury, also scored nine. Rodney Cooper followed his big game vs LSU with five points on 2-10 shooting. Cooper did lead the team with seven rebounds.
The Tide shot 19-53 (40.7%) for the game, and only 3-16 (18.8%) from three point range. Free throw shooting was decent at 14-20 (70%.) Auburn shot 49% percent for the game, with a sizzling 63.6% in the second half. Denson and Harrell took 34 of Auburns 51 shots, and made 19 of their 25 field goals.
No sugar coating this one, it was a bad, bad loss. The last two trips to Lee County have not been good for Coach Anthony Grant and his Tide team. Last year's version lost to a really bad Auburn team 49-37 on February 6th, which was the Tigers last SEC win until tonight. To add insult to injury the Alabama ODK chapter had to present the Foy-ODK Sportsmanship Trophy to their Auburn peers at half time, and sing the Auburn fight song. Of course this brought out a sell out crowd for a team that typically draws about 3,000 fans per game.
The win was just the second for Auburn in their last 23 SEC games, and both wins coming against the Tide in the Auburn Arena. Auburn is now 9-9 overall and 1-6 in the SEC. 'Bama dropped to to 9-11, 3-4 in the SEC. There are losses, then there are losses that resonate with fan bases. This one is the later, as Alabama people, whether they follow basketball or not, chime in, and the ones that have are not happy. Coach Anthony Grant's seat is getting steaming hot, and the faction that supports him is dwindling fast. By all accounts Grant is a good guy that does things the right way, but right now he is not getting it done. His players (that stay around) graduate, and other than a few minor issues, behave.Levi Randolph was just named to the First Team All-District Academic Team for the second year in a row. Randolph carries a 3.45 GPA in marketing, and has been on the Dean's List in three of the last four semesters. The Tide will need to finish strong to cool Grant's seat off.
'Bama will host Tennessee on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Coleman. The game will be televised on ESPN2. Six of the Tide's last 11 games will be road games, and as mentioned, 'Bama has not one away from Coleman Coliseum since March 9th of 2013 at Georgia.
Roll Tide Y'all, hang in there