No. 3 Alabama remains perfect in the SEC after beating in-state rival Auburn 77-69 in front of a hostile crowd inside Neville Arena.
The victory for the Crimson Tide brings their SEC record to a perfect 12-0 and their overall record to 22-3, dropping Auburn’s SEC record to 7-5 and overall record to 17-8. After watching Auburn give Alabama everything they had Saturday, you could not tell that this was a slumping Auburn team that had just suffered their fifth loss in six games.
Auburn’s perimeter defense showed up with a game plan Saturday, and it was a good one. One of Alabama’s biggest strengths, the three-pointer, was completely taken away from them on Saturday. Alabama was held to a 29% three-point shooting percentage, with the stingy Auburn defense limiting the Crimson Tide to just six three-pointers on 21 attempts, one of their worst shooting performances from beyond the arc this season.
While the deep ball wasn’t there for Alabama, they took advantage inside the paint against a smaller-sized Auburn team. Despite losing the rebound battle 34-36, the Crimson Tide dominated the points in the paint category 44-20, and in fact, Alabama only scored two points that weren’t a free throw, three-pointer or inside the paint. By taking the high-percentage shots inside the paint, Alabama finished shooting 59% from the field for the game.
With the SEC’s leading scorer Brandon Miller struggling from behind the arc, missing all seven of his attempts, Alabama had to lean on a couple of guards to do the heavy lifting in the scoring department. Freshman Rylan Griffen continued to be a spark for Alabama, coming off the bench with a team-high 16 points, while starting guard Mark Sears chipped in 15 points and six rebounds. Sears and Griffen were the only Alabama players to have any success from the perimeter, as they accounted for five of Alabama’s six successful three-point attempts.
Next up for Alabama is another road test as they face Tennessee in Knoxville on Wednesday, February 11.
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