Alabama Rolls Over Auburn on the Road

How many times have you seen it? A star player is lost and the rest of the team picks up the slack. Thus it was for Alabama at Auburn Tuesday night. Tony Mitchell, Bama's second leading scorer and rebounder, was suspended, and therefore was not a part of a big Crimson Tide victory.

Alabama overcame an early Auburn lead, took a double-digit halftime advantage, and didn't let up in a 68-50 rout of the Tigers.

It was Bama's fourth consecutive victory over Auburn. The Tigers had been 12-1 in the new Auburn Arena – the only loss to Kentucky – before Alabama's romp. The teams will meet again in Tuscaloosa on Feb. 29.

Bama improved to 16-7 overall and 5-4 in Southeastern Conference play. Auburn fell to 13-11, 3-7 in the league. After losing four consecutive SEC games, Bama has now won three in a row.

Playing without Mitchell, who has been suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team, Alabama dominated Auburn. The game had an unusual three technical fouls against Auburn in the first half and both teams were charged with intentional fouls.

After falling behind by seven points in the first few minutes, the Tide roared to a 35-24 halftime lead. Auburn cut that margin to six points early in the second half. Bama built the lead to 20, but Auburn had another run to cut it to 11 late in the second period, but Bama kept control.

Alabama continues on the road, going to LSU Saturday for a 6 p.m. CST game. Bama defeated the Bayou Tigers, 69-53, in an earlier game this year.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said, "It was outstanding, a great effort by everyone. It was a dominating performance."

Alabama had an answer for Auburn's second half push. The Tigers scored the first five points of the second period, but Bama answered with five straight. After the teams swapped three-pointers – Alabama's by JaMychal Green – the Tigers got to within 10. Bama's Rodney Cooper then hit two three-pointers around a two-point field goal in a two-and-a-half minute span to up the Bama lead to 18.

Charles Hankerson, who had three first half three-point shots, got an assist from Trevor Releford on a fast break for a layup that gave Alabama a 20-point lead at 58-38.

Hankerson had 14 points off the bench, Cooper 8, and Carl Engsrom – the surprise first substitute of the game – 4 points as the Crimson Tide bench out-scored Auburn's subs by 28-9.

Alabama was led by Green with 19 points and seven rebounds and Releford with 15 points.

Auburn got to within 11 points with just under six minutes to play, but two Green layups around a pair of Releford free throws put the game away. Auburn did not score a field goal in the final six minutes.

Auburn hit its first five shots of the game, four of them by 6-10 center Rob Chubb, and led by as many as seven points in the early minutes of the first half. (Chubb would not make another point after that flurry.) Alabama finally tied the game at 14-14 when Hankerson hit a three-point shot to cap a 7-0 Bama run. Hankerson would have three first half three-pointers.

Another Hankerson trey a moment later tied it again at 17-17 and the Crimson Tide finally took the lead (19-18) for the first time with seven and a half minutes to play when Trevor Releford made a layup on a nice assist from JaMychal Green.

The game was tied at 21-21, and then the Tide outscored the Tigers, 14-3, going to halftime, including the final eight points of the first half. Green scored two baskets in the final minute, one at the buzzer that made it 35-24.

Auburn was its own worst enemy as Alabama overcame the early lead by the Tigers. Three times Auburn was called for technical fouls – two for players hanging on the rim and once on Tigers Coach Tony Barbee. Releford made all six technical foul shots and the Tide was 11-12 from the line in the first half.

Alabama shot 24-of-52 (46.2 per cent) from the field, including 6-of-14 (42.9 per cent) from beyond the arc. The Tide's three-point percentage was its fourth highest of the season. Alabama's bench totaled 28 points against the Tigers, its third biggest output of the season and second-biggest in an SEC game. Alabama was good on 14-20 free throws, 70 per cent.

Bama held the Tigers to only 41 field goal attempts. The Tigers were 17-41 for 41.5 per cent. Auburn made 4-14 three-point shots, 28.6 per cent, and 12-26 free throws, 46.2 per cent.

Alabama won the rebounding battle, 34-28.

At Starkville last week, the Tigers had only three turnovers against Mississippi State. Bama forced 20 turnovers, while the Tide was guilty of 17. Bama scored 26 points off turnovers, Auburn 12. Alabama also won the scoring in the paint battle, 28-18.

TIDE NOTES: Alabama started the game with Andrew Steele at small forward, JaMycahl Green at low post, Nick Jacobs at high post, Levi Randolph at wing guard, and Trevor Releford at point guard.

Bama's starting lineup was not a surprise, but it was a surprise when the first substitute of the game for the Tide was soph Carl Engstrom going in for Jacobs.

Alabama now leads the series 88-56, including a 26-25 advantage in Auburn.

Alabama's next home game will be next Tuesday when the Tide hosts nationally-ranked Florida.

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