It was the most anticipated Iron Bowl’s of Basketball in recent memory. Both Alabama and Auburn came into the game as top 20 teams, the first time since 1987. It was also a game between the top two teams in the SEC standings. The stakes were high to say the least, and it seemed like it was too high for the Crimson Tide.

The Tigers jumped out to a 25-18 lead at the 12 minute mark in the first half, which grew to a 32-18 lead just two minutes later. Within the first 10 minutes of the game, Auburn went on a 20-4 run and the Crimson Tide looked like it was still in Tuscaloosa.

“Auburn was ready to go, and we weren’t,” said Head Coach Nate Oats

Alabama then turned it on. A 19-5 run in three minutes gave them a 37-36 lead with just over four minutes left in the half.

That run by the Crimson Tide showed signs of life, but it turned out to be false advertising. Auburn put together a 19-4 run of their own to end the half leading 55-41. Johni Broome and Jaylin Williams combined for 31 points, and were all over the court.

Perhaps nothing symbolized the poor final four minutes than the final two possessions. Alabama turned it over, then Williams was left free to throw down a monstrous windmill dunk on the other end, which forced Nate Oats to take a timeout.

Alabama got the ball looking for any momentum to take into the locker room. Mark Sears walked up the court with just over 20 seconds left. The senior guard then proceeded to lose track of time and Alabama could not get a shot up.

Those final possessions showed just how lost Alabama looked in a tough Neville Arena. It’s clear the team performs worse on the road, but the end of the first half last night symbolized every bad tendency the Crimson Tide have. Nine turnovers resulted in 15 Tiger points, and Auburn had 26 points in the paint, compared to just 12 for Alabama.

“They played harder and outrebounded us,” said Nate Oats, “They were up on the glass for most of the night and they took advantage of our small lineup inside,” he added.

Broome and Williams flat out dominated the Crimson Tide, and that did not stop in the second half. While the Tigers did not have a good second half on offense, both players blocked two shots, and were a combined 13-of-16 from the free throw line. Alabama did not have an answer inside.

While the second half was more even, it was clear Alabama was not going to be able to come back from the hole they dug themselves. The Auburn lead never fell below 12, despite the Crimson Tide getting stops on defense. Mark Sears’ 16 second half points were not enough, and the game finished 99-81.

Alabama’s smaller lineup was a bad matchup for an Auburn team that liked to get the ball inside. Grant Nelson and a returning Nick Pringle were not enough to stop Broome and Williams, and paired with a bad shooting night, it was clear how this game got out of hand.

“A lot of the effort stats that you look at, rebounds and turnovers they were better than us,” said Nate Oats.

The loss drops Alabama to 3-4 on the road this season, and all seven of their road games have had negative aspects. The team needed a 16 point comeback in their last road game to beat Georgia, they let big leads almost slip against Mississippi State and Vanderbilt earlier in the season. Less said about the Tennessee game the better for the Crimson Tide.

All those road struggles are frustrating, especially when you compare it to their home performances. This is a team that blew out South Carolina, whose currently tied at the top of the SEC. They beat this Auburn team in Tuscaloosa, and their only home loss was to Clemson in November.

Alabama needs to figure out how to win road games, and that will be seen Saturday morning at LSU. The Crimson Tide beat the Tigers 109-88 in Coleman Coliseum a few weeks ago. If Alabama has a similar performance Saturday, this game could be a huge confidence booster going into the final seven games of the season. But as it’s shown before, that easier said than done for Alabama.