Alabama Hammers Auburn

Alabama's basketball team romped to a 69-46 win over Auburn Saturday night in a Southeastern Conference basketball game at Coleman Coliseum. The Crimson Tide erased some early jitters with a 31-4 run, shutting down the Tigers with an effective zone defense and eventually winning the battle inside against a bigger, more experienced front line.

Alabama held a 36-17 halftime lead after the Tide had trailed by 8-2 in the early moments of the game. Alabama held Auburn scoreless for over eight minutes while scoring 16 points to take a 10-point lead at 18-8 in that big first half run.

The victory was Bama's biggest over Auburn since an 83-55 drubbing of the Tigers in the 1994 SEC Tournament and the biggest in Coleman Coliseum since a 77-53 win in 1975.

Alabama is now 10-4 overall and 2-1 in SEC play with both league victories coming in Tuscaloosa. Auburn fell to 10-5 overall and 1-3 in conference games. Alabama is on the road for the next two games. Bama will be at Georgia Wednesday, facing the Bulldogs after their upset of Kentucky in Rupp Arena on Saturday. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m. EST (6 p.m. CST). Next Saturday Bama will be at Ole Miss for a 5 p.m. CST contest. The Tide returns to Tuscaloosa Junuary 27 against nationally-ranked Florida. The Gators were number one in the nation earlier this season. The Tide makes its return trip to Auburn February 24.

Alabama now holds a 78-50 advantage in the series. The Tide makes its return trip to Auburn February 24.

Earnest Shelton did not have a great shooting nine, four-of-12 and three-of-eight on three-point tries, but managed a team high 12 points. Chuck Davis was four-of-nine for 10 points and had a game-high seven rebounds. Kennedy Winston added 11 points.

Substitutes played a key role for Alabama. Things had gotten a little uncomfortable for Alabama as Auburn got within 18 points at 50-32 with with just under 11 minutes to play. That's when Evan Brock made a rim-rattling slam putback, then scored two free throws, then had an exceptional pass for an easy layup by Antoine Pettway to push the Tide lead back to 24 points with under nine minutes to play. Demetrius Smith was at point guard for much of Bama's first half run and finished with seven points on perfect shooting, three-of-three, one a three-pointer. Emmett Thomas scored eight points, hitting his only official three-point try and also making three foul shots when he was hacked on another three-point effort. He was also a force on the boards with three official rebounds and several tip-aways and had two steals.

Pettway had nine points, with an uncharacteristicly low one assist. But he had four of Alabama's 11 steals.

Auburn's Kyle Davis moved into second place in all-time blocked shots. Davis needed two and got two as the Tigers had a field day rejecting Bama shots in the early going. Auburn finished with five blocked shots, four coming in the first few minutes. But Bama continued to battle inside and despite the presence of Davis and Marco Killingsworth, Alabama outscored Auburn, 30-20, in the paint and out-rebounded the visitors 36-30.

While Killingsworth got his points, 17, the remainder of Auburn's starting lineup combined for only nine points, including only one by Davis. Guard Lewis Monroe, who has been out with an injury, was a surprise starter but missed all six of his field goal attempts and had only two points. In addition to Killingsworth, the only Auburn player in double figures was back-up Quinnel Brown, who hit four three-point shots for 12 points.

Alabama shot 49 per cent from the field (25-51), including 57.1 per cent from three-point range (8-14) and made 11 of 13 foul shots (84.6 per cent). Auburn shot only 32.7 per cent from the field (18-55) and only 22.7 per cent on three-pointers (5-22). Auburn hit five-of-eight foul shots.

Bama's lead was as much as 26 points. The 46 points scored by the Tigers matched the fewest Auburn had scored against the Tide since the 1980 season when the Tigers also scored 46 points.

Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried was pleased with his team's performance, particularly the teamwork of his squad. "On defense, our players are helping each other," Gottfried said. "We talk a lot about: It is amazing what can get accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit. That is an old John Wooden saying and this team really applies it. They just play. The open man takes shots and they help each other defensively. This was a good win for us today."

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