Alabama Basketball Coach Avery Johnson will take a basketball team to Auburn for the first time Tuesday night, but he doesn’t expect to be surprised by the hostility directed at his team – and him. He’s played and coached in the Boston Garden against the Celtics.
“All the places I’ve been, it won’t be more hostile,” he said.
Still, likely plenty hostile enough. Alabama goes to Auburn for an 8 p.m. CST Tuesday game that will be televised on the SEC Network.
Alabama is coming off a disappointing loss at Vanderbilt (71-63), while Auburn is coming off a 75-70 win over Kentucky, a game that will cost the Tigers athletics department $100,000 because their fans – in a celebratory, not hostile, mood – stormed the court as Auburn improved its record to 8-8 overall, 2-3 in Southeastern Conference play. The SEC imposed the fine for the behavior of the fans.
Alabama is 10-6 overall, but only 1-4 in SEC games.
Avery Johnson, in his first year as Alabama’s head coach, said that he hopes to see an improved Crimson Tide against Auburn after the performance at Vanderbilt. The Tide hit only 7-20 free throws in the loss, while Vandy made 22-36.
“We’ve taken pride in being a pretty good road team,” Johnson said. “I was surprised at the lack of energy and execution at Vanderbilt.”
Alabama has three wins over ranked teams this year (Wichita State, Notre Dame, and South Carolina) and goes into the Auburn game with an RPI of 40 and a strength of schedule at 16 in the nation. Bama is 3-4 against teams ranked among the top 50 RPI.
The Tide has a three-game winning streak over Auburn after having won both games last year. Bama has an all-time record of 92-59 against the Tigers, including a 27-28 record in games played at Auburn.
Johnson said Bama had two good practices in preparation for Auburn following the loss to the Commodores. The Tide coach said the first few minutes of the game and the second half would be critical for Alabama in a road game.
Retin Obasohan, who had 16 points in Alabama’s 79-68 win at Auburn last season, leads the Tide in scoring at 13.7 points per game. He also leads Bama in steals (25), minutes (31.4), field goals made (73) and attempted (170) and free throws made (52) and attempted (76), while ranking second in assists (2.1 apg). He also leads the team with 10 double-figure scoring games and five times scoring 20 or more points. Shannon Hale averages 10.5 points and Arthur Edwards 10.1. Jimmie Taylor is averaging 5.6 rebounds per game.
The Tigers are led by guard Kareem Canty, who had 26 points in the win over Kentucky and who averages 19 ppg. Tyler Harris, a 6-10, 228-pound inside player for Auburn, averages 15.3 points and 8.6 rebounds, and 6-7, 250-pound Cinmeon Bowers averages 11 points and 8.9 rebounds.
The Tide ranks among the top defensive teams in the SEC. Entering Tuesday’s game, Alabama ranks fourth in scoring defense (65.7) and is sixth in field goal percentage defense (.399), three-point field goal percentage defense (.343) and blocked shots (5.1 bpg). Offensively, the Tide is fourth in three-pointers made per game (7.7) and seventh in three-point field goal percentage (.346).