Stuart McNair

Alabama had to overcome its poor free throw shooting to beat Auburn

Alabama stops two-game losing streak with 65-57 win over Auburn

A brick company has a sponsorship in which it gives the Brick of the Game honor to a player making the best slam dunk. (It went to Dont’a Hall.) In Coleman Coliseum Saturday that award could have gone to a handful of players, but not for dunks. For the bricks they put up on free throws.


Fortunately for Alabama, the Crimson Tide made the fouls shots down the stretch which helped Bama to a 65-57 win over Auburn – a game that seemed much closer than the final score.


Retin Obasohan, who missed most of the first half with foul trouble, scored 7 of his game-high 16 points in the last 2:19, and he also had a huge steal and a rebound in the final minute to seal the win over the Tigers.


The win broke a two-game losing streak for the Tide. Alabama improved its record to 17-11 overall and 8-8 in Southeastern Conference games, while Auburn fell to 11-17, including 5-11 in the conference. The teams split their regular season games this year with Auburn winning 83-77 in Auburn.


Alabama Coach Avery Johnson said, “We had two grueling practices this week. I’m just glad we had enough left in the tank to finish.”


Next up, Alabama stays in Coleman Coliseum for an 8 p.m. CST Wednesday game against Arkansas.


Arthur Edwards had 15 points, including 3-6 on three-point shots, and Dont’a Hall had 10, all on slam dunks. Hall and Riley Norris had 8 rebounds each as Bama had a slight 37-36 edge in that category. Hall also had 2 blocked shots before fouling out.


Cinmeon Bowers led Auburn with 12 points and 13 rebounds, though Bryce Brown was 4-6 on three-pointers and was top scorer for the Tigers with 14 points and Horace Spnder had 10. Tyler Harris had 12 rebounds to go with his 7 points.


Bama hit 21-54 from the field, 38.9 per cent, and Auburn 20-47 for 42.6 per cent. The Tide hit 6-19 on three-pointers(31.6 per cent), AU 5-14 (35.7 per cent). Auburn was guilty of 18 turnovers, leading to 14 Tide points, while Alabama had 13 t,urnovers, which the Tigers turned into 11 points.


Bama had a 28-24 advantage on points in the paint and a 12-9 edge in second chance points. Alabama was 6-2 in fast break points.


Auburn trailed by only two points at halftime and erased that quickly, out-scoring Alabama by 15-3 in the first five minutes after intermission to take a 10-point lead at 44-34.


The comeback was torture, partly because both teams were so poor from the free throw line. Alabama made its last seven free throws of the game, after going 6-7 in the first half, but only 4-15 in the second half before the finishing sprint. Thus, Alabama finished at 17-29 on foul shots, 58.6 per cent. Auburn, though, was worse. The Tigers hit only 12-27 for 44.4 per cent, including only 4-12 in the second half.


Edwards started the comeback with a three-point shot to make it 44-37. Minutes later Hall had a putback. A trey by Shannon Hale with 12:25 pulled the Tide to within four at 46-42. Over the next minute Bama managed only 1-3 free throws, but it was within three at 43-46. Another 1-2 on free throws cut it to 44-46.


The free throw troubles continued for both teams, but with 6:32 to play Edwards made a steal and drove the length  of the court to tie the game at 48.


Auburn would take a brief lead at 49-48 on a 1-2 free throw situation, but Obasohan drove and scored with 5:43 and the Tide was at 50-49 and would not trail again.


Two key plays were Michael Kessens scoring slams on back-to-back possessions from nice assists, first from Justin Coleman, second from Obasohan. The Tigers would get within a point on a trey by Bryce Brown. Auburn had a chance to take the lead on a pair of free throws, but missed both…and though the Tigers got the rebound and took a wide open three-point shot, that missed too.


Obasohan then hit his only three-pointer to move the lead out to four, and Auburn never got closer.


Alabama had only a 31-29 lead at halftime, even though the Tide never trailed. It was a disappointing margin as Bama had a 10-point lead at 24-14 with 7:34 to play.


Bama had Retin Obasohan for only nine minutes of the first half owing to foul trouble. The Tigers didn’t take much advantage of their 15 free throw opportunities in the first half, making only 8.


The offensive highlight for the Tide was Dont’a Hall contributing four slam dunks, and blocking two shots in relief of Jimmie Taylor. Arthur Dedwards had eight points on two treys and two free throws.


Taylor scored the first two points of the game as Bama worked the ball to him at the baseline and he muscled up a field goal. The next three times the Tide worked it into Taylor, however, he had two missed shots and a turnover.


Auburn didn’t score its first basket of the game until over five and a half minutes had passed.


TIDE NOTES: Alabama started its usual lineup of Retin Obasohan at point guard, Arthurd Edwards and Riley Norris on the wings, Michael Kessens at high post, and Jimmie Taylor at low post.


Halftime was a highlight situation with Alabama Coach Nick Saban and members of the 2015 Crimson Tide national championship football team accepting the ironically-named ODK Foy Sportsmanship Trophy. It is presented by the loser of the Alabama-Auburn game to the winner at the winning football team’s home basketball game. Bama won it again for its 29-13 win at Auburn.


The house was full, 15,383 listed as attendance.


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Alabama now leads the all-time series, 93-60, including a 47-8 margin in Tuscaloosa, 40-7 in Coleman Coliseum. It was Bama’s seventh straight win in Coleman Coliseum against Auburn and the Tide has won 10 of the last 13.

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