But that light at the end of the tunnel seemed to be a locomotive after Saturday. Alabama suffered a disheartening loss in Coleman Coliseum at the hands of a Vanderbilt team that hadn’t won a previous SEC road game. And when the Tide looked ahead it saw a road game against Auburn, which had just upended Georgia in Athens.
It already was a problematic situation considering that Bama had relied on a furious rally and a bit of luck to defeat Auburn in Tuscaloosa by only 57-55 on a Rodney Cooper putback at the buzzer in late January. Levi Randolph, who has been Bama’s top player this year, keyed the comeback win over the Tigers.
Now Alabama (15-10 overall and 5-7 in SEC games) goes to Auburn (12-13, 4-8) to take on the Tigers at 8 p.m. CST Tuesday. ESPNU will televise the game.
Tide Coach Anthony Grant said, “(It’s a) rivalry game. Obviously, these are always big. Auburn is coming off a great win on the road at Georgia. (I’m) really impressed with how they’re playing both offensively and defensively. (It was) a tough defeat for us in our last game. I think our guys are prepared to move on and get ready to play at Auburn. It means a lot to our guys and to their team. We’re looking forward to the challenge tomorrow.”
It was suggested that Bama didn’t have great energy in its loss to Vanderbilt. Grant said, ““My concern is that we needed to be better defensively. Vanderbilt is a talented offensive team. We didn’t do what we needed to do, to be able to win that game from a defensive standpoint.”
This game is much about the coaches. Grant is in his sixth season at Alabama and has a record of 114-85 (58.5 per cent). He’s 190-106 (64.2 per cent) in his nine seasons as a head coach. Auburn is led by Bruce Pearl, who took over a bad situation with the Tigers this season. In his 11th season as a Division I head coach (notably including Tennessee) he has a career record of 243-112 (68.5 per cent).
Pearl was out of coaching for a few years after an NCAA violation and attempted cover-up at Tennessee, but has resurrected his career to the enthusiastic approval of Auburn basketball fans.
Alabama has won eight of the last 10 games against Auburn and has an all-time record of 91-59 against the Tigers. Bama’s two losses in the last 10 games have come in the last two trips to Auburn. The Tide has lost six of the last eight appearances in Auburn, but has an all-time record of 25-28 in Auburn.
Grant is 8-3 against Auburn, including 2-3 in Auburn.