“I give Auburn credit. We got outplayed in every facet of the game,” said Alabama head coach Anthony Grant. “Their energy, their effort, their focus was a lot better than ours. It showed in the second half.”
Once again, the Tigers were cold to start, missing shots and being out-rebounded early. They began 0–10 from the field and trailed 9–0 before scoring their first points seven minutes into the game. Then they went on a 10–0 run with five minutes left in the first half to get back into the game, trailing by three.
Head coach Tony Barbee said, “We’ve been struggling offensively, we struggled tonight offensively, but we played well enough defensively to stay in the game the first half.”
At the end of the first half, Auburn trailed 23–13 in large part because of a scoring surge in the final minutes from Alabama’s Trevor Releford. The junior guard scored a team-high nine points in the first half, including six straight in the final two minutes.
On Auburn’s side of the ball, the first half was sloppy, shooting 3-of-23 from the field. The 13 percent shooting came from a number of players, but Auburn senior Frankie Sullivan shot 0-7 and only had two points in the half. He finished the game 1–13 with seven points.
Barbee commented on Sullivan, “He’s struggling right now offensively, but he was engaged defensively.”
The game’s leading scorer for Auburn, Josh Wallace said, “Everyone hits a slump. We just have to carry him on nights like this.”
After the half, Barbee said he told the team, “To keep guarding, get tough on the backboard and offensively I told them just play tough.”
The pep talk sparked the team, allowing Auburn to explode on a 20–3 run to take the lead in the second half. Led by 11 points from Allen Payne and Wallace, the Tigers came back building on the team’s stingy defense. Alabama shot 24 percent from the field and scored a meager 14 points. Auburn capitalized and was able to gain and maintain the lead until the final buzzer.
Auburn came into tonight’s game losing six straight, while Alabama had won six of its last seven, including a four-point victory over Kentucky. The victory was the first time in five meetings and first time under Barbee the team has beaten rival Alabama. On beating the Tide, Payne said, “I got chills, I’m not going to lie.”
The Tigers next match-up is against Kentucky in Lexington on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 3 p.m.