TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Auburn outplayed Alabama in nearly every facet for almost 75% of the game on Wednesday night. Fortunately for the Crimson Tide, the 25% of the game they decided to show up for was the ending.
Auburn came out hot from the start, with Jaylin Williams and Allen Flanigan knocking down tough shots and Johni Broome dominating the post. The Tigers shot over 50% from the floor in the first half, including an astounding 75% from beyond the arc, knocking down six of their eight three point attempts. The Crimson Tide, on the other hand, could not buy a basket, making just 11 of their 28 shot attempts in the first half.
The Tide started the second half hot, with Mark Sears and Noah Clowney hitting threes to tie the game at 42. Just as it seemed Alabama was going to run away with this one, Auburn went on a 24 – 7 scoring run, taking a 17 point lead about halfway through the second half.
That’s when everything clicked for the Tide.
Some big plays from the veteran guard, Jahvon Quinerly, shifted the momentum. The Tide’s energy, physicality and intensity all changed as they began to claw their way back into a game that at one point seemed impossible to win. Quinerly, along with the freshmen sensations, Brandon Miller and Clowney, led the Tide to an all-time great comeback that will be remembered by Alabama fans forever.
Making the comeback even more impressive, was the fact that Alabama had to do it without Charles Bediako and Rylan Griffen for most of the second half. Griffen and Bediako left the Tide bench during an altercation, resulting in their disqualifications. Despite not having their starting seven-footer and one of their leading bench scorers, Alabama was able to force overtime.
Clutch buckets and stops on the defensive end helped the Tide escape with the overtime win, cementing what will go down as one of the greatest comebacks in program history.
Quinerly had his best performance of the season at the perfect time. He finished with 24 points, six assists and three steals off the bench. Miller, Clowney and Sears each tacked on 17 points as well.
“I can’t be more proud of JQ. I told him and I told the team we’re getting the March version of JQ,” an emotional Coach Nate Oats said after the game.
Coach Oats and the Crimson Tide cut down the nets following the win, as they became regular season SEC champions. The regular season championship is the Tide’s second in the last three seasons and their 11th in program history. The title ties Alabama with Tennessee and LSU for the second most regular season championships in SEC history.
Coach Oats acknowledged the championship stating, “We still have things we want to accomplish ahead of us, but these guys have worked so hard and I’m proud of them.”
The Tide improve to 26-4 on the win with a record of 16-1 in SEC play. Alabama will also finish the season a perfect 15-0 at home.
The Crimson Tide will be back in action for their final game of the regular season on Saturday at Texas A&M.