After losing in Auburn by 20 earlier in the season, Alabama was looking to even the season series in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night. The Tigers had a different idea, and took the victory 82-77 to sweep the Tide for the first time since 2009. AU scored 41 points in each half while shooting a sizzling 56% (15-27) from three point range. In the two victories Auburn shot 58% from deep against Bama, but are only hitting 34% on the season against everyone else.
The big freshman, Austin Wiley, who dominated the Tide in the first game to the tune of 19 points and nine rebounds, was totally neutralized in todays game, scoring only two points and grabbing two rebounds. However five of his teammates scored in double figures with their Golden State Warrior type shooting.
‘Bama started out hot, with an 8-2 early lead, before Auburn got going with a three point barrage to take a lead they never relinquished. The Tigers stretched the lead to as many as 12 before the Tide closed the half strong and trailed only 41-39 at the break. Despite a 12 rebound advantage ‘Bama couldn't over come Auburn’s 7-13 shooting from deep in the first frame.
In the second half Alabama came out aggressive and had several wide open shots to potentially tie or take the lead, but missed on eight straight attempts including three wide open threes, a couple of lay ups, and two more point blank shots in the paint. The Tigers started out cold as well, but quickly regained their eye.
The Tide hung around until suddenly they looked up and were down 11. Once the Tigers reached 62 points, the chance for an Alabama victory took a severe hit. With five minutes left, the Tigers lead 71-58 before a furious Tide rally fell just short.
Coach Avery Johnson finally called on a full court press in the final few minutes and his team responded with steals on four straight possessions for a 12-0 run to quickly cut the lead to 78-74 with one minute left. The closest the Tide would get was 80-77 with 16 seconds remaining. AU hit just enough free throws at the end to secure the victory.
Auburn was 27-53 (50%) from the field, including 15-27 for 56% from three, but only 13-22 (59%) from the free throw line. Alabama shot 28-65 (43%), 8-32 (25%) from deep and matched Auburn with a terrible 13-22 (59%) from the free throw line. After two straight games of improved free throw shooting, the team corrected to their norm in tonight’s game. The Tide totally dominated the boards. out rebounding the Tigers by 47-28, with 21 offensive. ‘Bama turned the ball over 15 times, against only 10 assists. Auburn turned it over 14 times and passed for 12 assists. Alabama had nine steals.
Alabama was led once again by freshman Braxton Key with 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists, along with two blocks. Dazon Ingram added 16 points and added four assists and five rebounds. Corban Collins had 17 points. Bola Olaniyan led in rebounds with eight in only 14 minutes of action. Jimmie Taylor contributed six points and six rebounds. Donta Hall was limited by a wrist injury, but was able to play 20 minutes and gather seven rebounds.
With a raucous sell out crowd rocking Coleman, the Tide really needed a victory in this game. With a road trip to South Carolina and a home game with Kentucky next on the agenda, a two game losing streak is not conducive to ‘Bama’s post season hopes. A 6-2 start in the SEC is suddenly looking likely to be 6-6. It seems like every time this team takes one step forward, it takes two steps back. With a patchwork roster and no true go-to scorer, or consistent knock down shooter, things have to go just right for the team to win. One can only hope that with the highly regarded class coming in next season, the results will equal the expectations.
South Carolina will host Alabama on Tuesday night at 5:30 CT. The game will be shown on the SEC Network. With eight conference games and the SEC Tournament left, the Tide needs to get on some sort of roll. Heres hoping that happens.
RTR and Buckle Up