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Alabama Basketball Falls To Auburn, 99-81

The Crimson Tide traveled to Auburn and were blasted by the home town Tigers 99-81 on Wednesday night. Bama fell to 16-7 and 8-2 in the SEC and into a first place tie in the SEC with Auburn and South Carolina

Alabama v Auburn
Nate Oats looking for answers during Wednesday nights game. Suprisingly Oats was not called for a technical after several mysterious calls
Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

The Alabama Crimson Tide traveled to Auburn to play the Tigers on Wednesday night. The home team blasted the visiting Tide 99-81 in a foul filled, free throw shooting contest. Alabama fell to 16-7 and 8-2 in the SEC while Auburn improved to 19-4 overall and 8-2 in the SEC. Alabama, Auburn, and South Carolina are all tied for first place in the conference and Tennessee is a half-game behind at 7-2.

The Tide used the same four-guard lineup they have used as of late, but the size and physicality of the Tigers was way to much for Alabama. Mark Sears, Aaron Estrada, Rylan Griffen, Latrell Wrightsell, Jr., and Grant Nelson were the first five for coach Nate Oats. The two teams combined for 61 fouls and 85 free throw shots. Johni Broome, Auburns excellent big man and one of the most physical players in the country, somehow didn't record a single foul in the game while playing 26 minutes. Also Alabama’s foul-a-minute big man Nick Pringle didn't get called for a foul in just under 14 minutes.

Bama had a nice start with Griffen and Estrada both hitting three point shots for a 6-2 lead with 18:50 left. With 14:40 remaining, the Tide led 15-12, and then trailed 20-18 with 12:20 left. Auburn went on a run and pushed it out to 30-18 with 10:25 on the clock and it felt like things were going off the rails.

The Tide made a run of their own with a three pointer by Wrightsell followed by an old fashioned three point play by Estrada. When Nelson made two free throws with 4:39 left Alabama led 37-36. When Pringle made a hoop and got fouled the score was 39-39. Pringle missed the free throw, and then the Tigers went on a run that basically put the game out of reach. Over the last four plus minutes of the half, the only Tide points were two Sears free throws while Auburn scored 16 points for the 55-41 half time lead.

In the first half, the Tide shot 12-28 for 43% with 6-15 for 40% from behind the arc. Bama made 11 of 14 free throws, had 17 rebounds, two blocks, one steal, five assists, and nine big turnovers. Sears led the way with nine points while Estrada notched eight points and Nelson tossed in seven. Auburn shot a hot 19-36 for 53% including 4-11 for 36% from three and 13-16 at the line for 81%. The Tigers had 18 rebounds, 19 assists, four blocks, nine steals, and committed only one turnover. Jaylen Williams had 17 points and Broome had 14 as the Tigers abused the Tide in the paint by a margin of 26-12.

Alabama used the same starters for the second half. The Tide never really made a game out of it, closing to 59-48 with 17:19 on a Griffen three, but every time Bama made a mini run, the Tigers answered. Alabama never could come up with an answer for the home teams strength down low. On the second half broadcast the most entertaining part was the Jimmy Dykes and Karl Ravech interview with the great Charles Barkley. Barkley is Auburn to the core, but always shoots straight and pulls no punches. The Round Mound of Rebound said that “We (Auburn) are like the stepchild, we are never going to be Alabama. Being from Alabama you have to choose sided as a child, and I picked Auburn. If we play them in anything we always want to beat them, but we will never be them. We are kind of like Oklahoma State and Kansas State.”

The teams played out the string over the last 15 minutes or so, and the biggest question was if the Tide could hold Auburn under 100 points and lose by less than 20. In those two aspects Bama succeeded, losing 99-81. The game, with the endless parade by both teams to the free throw line, almost made the half unwatchable.

In the second half Alabama shot 10-31 for 32%, 3-11 for 27% from deep, and 17-21 for 81% at the line. Overall the Tide made 22-59 shots for 37%, 9-26 for 35% from three, and 28-35 for 80% at the line. The team collected 35 rebounds, five blocks, two steals, eight steals, and 15 big turnovers. Sears once again led the way with 25 points in 37 minutes. The senior point guard also added nine rebounds with two assists and two blocked shots. Nelson fouled out for the second straight game but added 16 points in 25 minutes and had six rebounds, two blocks, and two assists. Griffen was an efficient 5-9 shooting with 4-6 from three and scored 14 points. Estrada was also in double figures with 10 points.

Auburn shot 8-28 for 28 in the second with only 1-8 from three. The Tigers made 27 of 34 free throws in the period for 79%. Overall the home team finished 27-64 for 42%, 5-19 for 26% from deep, and 40-50 !!!! for 80% at the free throw line. AU grabbed 42 rebounds, had 15 assists, 12 big blocked shots, 13 steals, and only five turnovers. Williams and Broome combined for 50 points with 26 and 24 respectively. Tre Donaldson added 14 points and Chad Baker-Mazara put in 13.

Most Alabama fans had this one down as a probable loss when the season began, and they were right. Auburn is a tough place to play and they have a good team. The Tide has been more successful than most in the tiny Neville Arena that the Tigers call home. Oats fell to 6-4 all time against Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. The loss broke a three game winning streak against the cross state rival.

The lack of bulk inside killed the Tide tonight. Big, physical, teams have given Bama trouble over Oats’ tenure, but especially this season. Bama has guards that can play with anyone in the country, but the inside game has faltered. Nelson, Jarin Stevenson, Mohamed Wague, Mohamed Diobuate, and Pringle are trying, but none of them can match up with players such as Broome. Losing Charles Bediako so late in the process has come back to haunt the team. All that being said, the sky isn't falling as the Tide is still in first place in the league with eight conference games remaining. Time for the players to bounce back and finish strong.

Next up is a road trip to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers on Saturday. The game will tip at 11 am and be shown on ESPN2. LSU is 12-10 overall and 4-5 in conference play. After that the Tide will have a midweek break and play again the next Saturday in another 11 am game, this time at home with Texas A&M.

Roll Tide