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Alabama Basketball is left at the starting line, loses big to Auburn

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Final score: 84-63

NCAA Basketball: Alabama at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Well.

That was fun... I guess...

Auburn looked like they were playing in a totally different league of basketball than Alabama, and the Tide began wilting by halfway through the first half, growing more and more frustrated and making more and more mistakes.

Alabama actually started the game pretty well, racing out to a 9-4 lead through the efforts of Kira Lewis and Donta Hall. Things were looking good, and Alabama was doing a good job of keeping the Auburn offense stymied.

Then the Tigers made three 3-pointers (all with decent defensive coverage) in less than a minute and Alabama fell apart after that. The Tide defense started over-committing to guarding three pointers and just wound up with gaping holes in their defense— holes that the Tigers were happy to drive into.

Things compounded as Alabama gave up turnover after turnover, many unforced (back-to-back travels and a team-wide case of the drops); all of which Auburn immediately punished with their high-speed transition game. The Tide did settle in and make a comeback to within 3 points late in the first half but then turned around with a 6 minute drought to end the half as Auburn scored 17 straight to go into halftime with a 48-28 lead.

Alabama did come out of half seeming to be a little more settled on defense and chipped away at the Auburn lead consistently, if slowly, for the first 7 minutes. It was looking like the Tide might get the lead back into single digits with plenty of time left on the clock... until Auburn swung a 6-point flurry in less than 20 seconds, capping it off with a monstrous dunk right through the heart of the Alabama defense. The Tide’s spirit went out after that, and everyone in the building knew the game was over.

Alabama made a few baskets as Auburn mostly just ran clock then drained threes when they felt like it, but the game was no longer a competition, just one team waiting for the clock to hit 0 while the other had fun in front of a boisterous home crowd. In the end, the Tigers finished with a resounding 84-63 win. They probably could have hit 100 if they had really tried.

Johny Petty was one of the only things working on offense all night. Resuming his role of coming off the bench and then getting starter’s minutes, he led the team with 18 points and added 3 assists and 4 rebounds (which was good for second on the team... you know it was a bad night when the second leading rebounder only had 4). He worked the ball inside and got a couple of putbacks off of rebounds, and even got a nice slam.

Kira Lewis, Jr. was next with 13 points. He flashed some moments of brilliance and had a couple of steals, but found himself swarmed any time he tried to drive into the lane. Donta Hall had 10 rebounds, but was 2 points short of his weekly double-double. He made a couple mid-range shots, but his teammates weren’t able to get the ball to him under the basket very often as Auburn stole nearly every pass they tried all game.

Nobody else really contributed much on the offensive side. Alex Reese had 7 points, but most were in the waning moments of the game. Tevin Mack, Dazon Ingram, and Herbert Jones, three of the starters, each had more turnovers than points. Mack didn’t even score at all until a meaningless three right at the end of the game.

Ultimately, you can’t get only 4 steals while giving up 13 and expect to win a game easily. And when that other team shoots 22 three-point shots and goes 60% on them, there’s just no chance.

It was a totally dominant performance by Auburn, and Alabama’s mental strength just gave out in the face of the barrage of constant 3-pointers. Though it’s unlikely anyone will hit 60% of their three pointers against the Tide again, Alabama’s obvious loss of concentration as they got increasingly frustrated is something that will have to be addressed going forward if they want to finish the season in the NCAA tournament.

Roll Tide