On Jan. 21, Auburn knocked down 28 free throws to overwhelm the Crimson Tide, but on Saturday, free points seemed available to the Tigers (15 of 27 beyond the arc) as soon as they crossed half court.
“They shot incredible tonight from the 3-point line,” Corban Collins said. “We allowed them to get a couple open looks just to gain a little confidence. After that, sometimes shooters just need to see a couple go in and that will be all she wrote.”
After falling behind by as much as 14 points, with less than three minutes to play, the Crimson Tide used a 13-2 run (capped by a contested 3-pointer from Ar’Mond Davis) to cut Auburn’s lead down to three points.
Riley Norris dove to intercept the ball on the ensuing inbounds play, but he and the Crimson Tide came up short as the Auburn Tigers held on to claim an 82-77 victory. It was the first Auburn win inside Coleman Coliseum since March 3, 2009.
“There are some places you win and they don’t count any different in the win loss column, but they just matter more,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “Even when I was at Tennessee it mattered because of the rivalry, particularly with football. Then coming to Auburn it really mattered.”
Pearl said he knew coming into this game that Alabama could hurt the Tigers on the glass, and at times the Crimson Tide seemed to rebound at will.
Alabama grabbed 47 rebounds to Auburn’s 28. However, 19 second chance points weren’t enough to overcome the team’s 8 of 32 finish behind the arc.
Alabama did have more success containing Auburn freshman Austin Wiley. He finished the night with season lows in both points and rebounds with two apiece after finishing with 19 and nine, respectively, the last time he faced Alabama.
“We came here to, yes beat Auburn, but we came here also with an even bigger plan in mind,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “To try to take the University somewhere where it’s never been.”
After losing its last two games, the Crimson Tide has to upset either No. 19 South Carolina or No. 8 Kentucky if it is going to stop the sudden free fall in the next week.
“It’s a critical time in conference play right now,” Collins said. “We’re sitting at what 6-4 right now in conference, middle of the pack. We dropped two games in a row, we definitely cannot drop three.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports