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Postgame Thread: Auburn 81, Alabama 77

The effort was there, but the Tide came up just short.

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama fought hard tonight, but Auburn rolled into Coleman Coliseum and took home their 12th consecutive victory.

Both teams brought the intensity you’d expect in a heated rivalry game from the opening tip. Auburn big Walker Kessler got in foul trouble very early, much to the chagrin of Auburn coach Bruce Pearl who threw quite the tantrum on the sideline. Jabari Smith picked up the slack, however, leading all scorers with 13 as Auburn took a five point lead into the half, 40-35. Notably, the defensive effort was there, but they still allowed a whopping seven offensive rebounds in the opening half. Auburn also blocked eight shots despite Kessler’s lengthy stay on the bench.

Most of the second half belonged to Auburn. About midway through, Alabama hit one of their cold spells while reserve G Wendell Green, transfer from Eastern Kentucky, took the game over. Green was hitting threes from six feet outside the three point line and using his deft handle to get to the rim. Smith kept scoring as well, and the Tide were in danger of getting run out of their own building.

All of a sudden, the Tide turned. Auburn missed a couple of shots, Alabama took a couple of charges, the Tide got hot from three, and the resulting 14-0 run had the game tied at 73 with about 4 minutes to play. Oh, and this helped lift the spirits a bit as well.

Kessler got his fourth foul on that play and fouled out on a charge the next time down the court, taken by Davison.

Alabama was outstanding at the free throw line tonight, which was a welcome sight and required to keep them in the game. Unfortunately Auburn got the calls in the final minute, and made their free throws, to ice the game.

Auburn looks like one of the best teams in the nation, and Alabama went toe to toe with them. This effort was night and day from the one we saw on Saturday, and that should be encouraging. Next up is a trip to Starkville on Saturday.

Roll Tide.