Alabama finished their home season with a 70-58 victory over Auburn on Tuesday night. The Tide swept the season series with the Tigers for the first time since 2015. Bama finished 13-1 at Coleman Coliseum and is now 20-6 overall and 15-2 in league play. Auburn fell to 12-14 overall and 6-11 in the SEC.
The Tigers played without star point guard Sharife Cooper, who was out for the third straight game with a sprained ankle. Cooper looks to be a lottery pick in this summer’s NBA draft.
With Doug Shows officiating the game, ‘Bama fans were concerned the team would get the same treatment from him that they did in the Arkansas game on February 24th. However, things went very differently with the game being called extremely loose, and only 27 total free throws were taken in the game.
The Tide came out hot and looked like they would blow the game wide open early, jumping out to a 24-10 lead after Jaden Shackelford’s second made three-point basket with around nine minutes left in the half. Auburn was able to have a mini-run and cut the lead to 37-27 at the break, although it felt like Bama should have had a much bigger lead. Auburn was mauling the Tide on the boards by a margin of 24-11, but the Tide had forced 15 Tiger turnovers.
At the half, the Tide was shooting 15-35 for 43%, including 5-16 from three point range, and also made 2-2 free throws. Auburn was 10-25 for 40%, 3-10 from deep, and 4-4 from the charity stripe.
‘Bama did not exactly come out of the half firing on all cylinders, and did not score for the first three minutes of the period. Keon Ellis was fouled, flagrantly, but missed both free throws and did not score on the ensuing inbounds play. Ellis finally made a floater in the lane to break the seal on the basket. The Tide kept a steady 10-point lead, but the Barn wouldn't go away. John Petty hit a long three, then missed a dunk on a breakaway.
Shackelford and Jahvon Quinerly were getting to the rim and scoring at a high clip to lead the Tide through the half. After Alex Reese supposedly fouled a three-point shooter and a couple of sloppy turnovers, Auburn somehow had closed the margin to 52-47 at the eight minute mark. Petty nailed a three-point shot with 7:25 left for a 55-47 lead, followed by Shackelford with a couple of free throws, a drive to the hoop, and a made three pointer to blow the game wide open, 62-47 with 5:09 left.
With a 69-54 lead coach Nate Oats emptied the bench and allowed his seniors to get an ovation, Herbert Jones, Petty, and Reese in particular. Auburn made a three-pointer with a handful of seconds left to make the final score 70-58.
In the second half, Bama shot 12-33 including 5-19 from three and made only 4-9 free throws. For the game, the totals were a miserable 27-68 for 39%, 10-35 from three for 28% and 6-11 from the free throw line. Auburn was 11-28 in the second, 3-14 from deep, and 6-12 from the free throw line. The Tigers also shot 21-53 for the game (39%), 6-24 from three (25%), and 10-16 on free throws. The Tide finished with 34 rebounds, 13 assists, only seven turnovers, two blocks and 13 big steals. AU finished with 46 boards, had 10 assists, committed 23 turnovers, had three blocks and four steals.
Shackelford and Quinerly have been doing a ton of heavy lifting on the offensive end lately, and tonight was no different. Shack did break out of his three point shooting slump, and hit 5-9 from deep while scoring 23 points with three rebounds and two steals. Quinerly had 11 point and three assists. Petty added 11 points with six rebounds, two assists, a block, and two steals. Jones won the hard hat award, once again, and had 10 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and three steals. The Tide is going to have to figure out what is going on with Joshua Primo, as he had another subpar game with two points and three rebounds. Juwan Gary continues to bring energy in the few minutes (11 tonight) that he is offered, and contributed four points and four rebounds tonight. All of his rebounds were on the offensive end.
Oats said “our defense has been carrying us for about a month now,” and went on to say “to be honest, Herb Jones is the best defensive player I have ever coached.” Oats spoke to the crowd after the game and then the players, coaches, and staff, cut down the nets in celebration for the SEC Title they clinched on Saturday. Kool Aid McKinstry was even included in the net cutting.
The Tide is not quite through with the regular season — it has a final away game with Georgia added to the slate for Saturday. The game will be played 1 p.m. CT and be shown on CBS. The SEC Tournament will then begin on March 10th, but with a double bye the Tide will play first on Friday the 12th.