There should be no shortage of motivation for the Alabama men’s basketball team of Coach Avery Johnson when the Crimson Tide hosts Auburn at 7:30 p.m. CST Saturday (television by SEC Network) in Coleman Coliseum.
No. 1 is the memory of the first game between the two ins-state rivals this year when Auburn turned what had been a close game into an 84-64 rout of Bama in Auburn just two weeks ago.
Second, Alabama’s latest outing was more of the same, the Tide going on the road to Arkansas and being beaten by 19 points, 87-68, on Wednesday. Those are two of three Alabama losses in the last 11 games for Coach Avery Johnson’s Crimson Tide.
And, finally a positive motivation, tonight’s game is sold out, the second consecutive game for all tickets being purchased. Bama defeated Mississippi State, 71-62, in its last home game and is 3-1 in Southeastern Conference games in Coleman.
Ordinarily, the Alabama basketball crowd is less raucous than many, but the combination of the opponent being Auburn and this being the game where halftime ceremonies involve Bama’s football win over Auburn last fall tends to make a home court advantage in Coleman. Auburn representatives will present the Foy ODK Trophy to Alabama , which was a 30-12 winner over the Tigers in football.
After having played three of its last four games on the road, Alabama will start a stretch in which the Tide plays four of its next six games in Tuscaloosa.
Halfway through SEC play, Alabama is 13-8 overall and 6-3 in the league. Auburn is 14-8 overall, 3-6 in the conference.
Nationwide there are eight true freshmen who lead their teams in both scoring and rebounding. Two of them will be on display in tonight’s game. For Auburn, it is guard Mustapha Heron (15.3 points, 5.9 rebounds per game) and for Alabama guard Braxton Key (11.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg). The Tigers also feature freshman center Austin Wiley, who is averaging 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, but who went off for 19 points and 9 rebounds against the Tide in Auburn.
Auburn and Alabama will meet for the 155th time in series history, with the Crimson Tide leading the all-time series, 93-61. The Tide has won seven consecutive games and 10 of the last 14 against Auburn in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama’s schedule picks up after the Auburn game when the Tide goes to South Carolina on Tuesday, then returns home against Kentucky next Saturday.