Alabama Gets Win In Auburn Arena

AUBURN -- Not every athletic victory is "pretty." However, when said win comes on the road against your in-state rival on the day they honored their football team for it's national title, that itself can add luster. Such was the case for Alabama's 68-58 win in the first-year Auburn Arena Saturday, the Tide's first victory at Auburn since 2006.

"Guys stepped up and made plays. I'm just proud of the effort and the confidence," said Alabama Coach Anthony Grant, whose team improved to 12-7 and a league leading 4-1 in the SEC.

JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell each scored 15 points to lead Bama. Trevor Releford and Senario Hillman added 10 apiece. Charvez Davis and Chris Hines each scored eight.

"I wasn't worried about the touches. I just wanted to win.," said Green. "I think we just locked in. Coming down the stretch, we did what we needed to do on the defensive end."

Auburn was led by Earnest Ross with 20 points, while Kenny Gabriel chipped in 11. Gabriel only scored two points in the second half.

The teams combined for 36 turnovers, 21 by the Tigers. Auburn won the boards battle, 36-29. Green and Mitchell each had six rebounds.

Said Tigers coach Tony Barbee, "It is what it is. We can't score. We battled our butts off. I think we're close. We're competing, but we've got some guys who don't understand how tough you've got to be. We just have trouble putting the ball in the hole, and we had some guys break down in some crucial spots in the game.

"We played well enough defensively and we rebounded well enough to win the game."

Both teams struggled early, but the Tide took the lead 7-6 when Charvez Davis drained a trey at the 15:40 mark of the first half. Auburn reclaimed the lead until a Green dunk with 9:40 to go put the Tide up 15-14. In all, the first half featured five ties and nine lead changes. Grant employed three point guards -- Trevor Releford, Ben Eblen and Senario Hillman -- in the first 20 minutes. Releford sat the last 13:19 of the stanza after picking up his second personal foul.

"It came down to just surviving that half and not have (Releford) pick up his third foul," said Grant.

A Tony Mitchell tip-in gave the Tide a 23-22 lead, and Hillman made two free throws to get his team a three-point advantage. At the half, it was the Crimson Tide who had the lead, 29-27, on a late Mitchell trey. Mitchell had nine of his 15 points in the fist 20 minutes.

During intermission, the Auburn football team was honored for a second time Saturday, this time accepting the ODK Sportsmanship Trophy, given annually to the Iron Bowl winner. During this time, most folks of the crimson persuasion make their way to the concession stands and restrooms.

As many SEC opponents will do to Bama this year, the Tigers played a lot of zone defense. Against it, the Tide shot 20 of 48 for 42 per cent.

"We've done that all season long. We don't have a team capable of standing toe-to-toe, athletically," said Barbee.

With Auburn up a point, Grant was whistled for a technical with 12:29 to go. Gabriel missed both free throws, Auburn turned the ball over on a walking call, and Mitchell hit a runner for a 40-39 Tide lead.

Auburn again went up a point, but a Davis bomb put Bama up 47-45, a lead that carried through the media time out with 7:29 left in regulation.

Bama hit the bonus at the 7:13 mark, and went 16-20 down the stretch from the free throw line to ice it's victory.

"We get up a lot of free throws every day at practice, and we‘ve got to make them to win games ," Green said.

A Releford trey put the Tide up 51-47 with 6:16 left. After a Barbee time out, the teams traded baskets before Hines split a pair at the line, Hillman dove on the floor to recover a loose ball, was tied up, and the possession arrow favored Alabama with just over two minutes left. Hines then hit two straight at the stripe and UA had it's biggest lead thus far, 56-49 with 1:53 to go.

"Its frustrating, because I hate losing, no matter what it is: ping-pong checkers, whatever," Barbee said. "My wife still wont play me in Monopoly because of a game ten years ago"

"We didn't have enough people to make plays tonight," Ross said. "Their defense was pretty good. They pressed us, which caused a lot of turnovers."

Added Gabriel, "It was very disappointing. We didn't want to let (the crowd of 9,121) down, and we let them down. We've just got to get a screen here and make a shot there."

Alabama now holds an 86-57 lead in the series The Tide will have a week off before hosting LSU Saturday. "We get a chance to regroup and refocus this week. Were just at the beginning of SEC play," Grant said. "They don't hand out trophies in January. We've just got to stay ready."

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