Tide goes out of its way to lose

Alabama went out of its way to lose a basketball game at Auburn Saturday, 56-59. The Crimson Tide of Coach Mark Gottfried, ranked 14th in the nation, did not play anything like one of the nation's top teams in losing at Auburn for the sixth straight year.

The loss left Alabama with a 14-3 record and a 2-1 Southeastern Conference mark. The defeat to a very weak Auburn team probably should not be considered a surprise since Alabama has been the worst team in the SEC in road play in the previous three years. This was the first SEC road game of the year for the Tide.

Mo Williams brings the ball up versus the Tigers. (photo courtesy of Inside the Auburn Tigers)

And now Alabama must go on the road against a very good Georgia team. Bama will be in Athens Wednesday for a game that will tip off at 8 p.m. EST, 7 p.m. CST, and be televised regionally by Jefferson Pilot. The Tide returns home to Coleman Coliseum next Saturday to host Mississippi State at 6 p.m. CST.

Alabama had a horrible offensive game against the Tigers, hitting only 30 per cent for the game and only 25 per cent in the second half. The Tide did not make any of its eight three-point attempts in the second half and hit only 22 per cent for the game. Bama played well defensively, holding Auburn to only 35 per cent shooting on their home court.

Bama started well and built as much as a nine-point lead against Auburn. However, shortly before halftime a series of critical errors enabled the home team to close to within only two points, 32-30, at intermission.

Bama was led by Erwin Dudley, who had 17 points. One other Tider who played well was, surprisingly, freshman point guard Mo Williams. While several veterans faded in the contest, Williams scored 12 points and had a career-high nine rebounds. Dudley and Williams were the only two Bama players to score in double figures.

Antoine Pettway and Demetrius Smith played well off the bench, Pettway with seven points, Smith with six. Two men the Tide depend on for scoring did next-to-nothing. Rod Grizzard had only seven points, while Terrance Meade managed only five points.

Kenny Walker, an Alabama starter and one of only two big men for the Tide, made a series of careless fouls and spent most of the day on the bench, one reason Auburn out-rebounded Alabama, 49-38. Two of those Auburn rebounds came after the Tigers missed free throws. The irst time Auburn converted the second chance into a three-point basket. The second time was after Auburn missed two free throws in the final eight seconds with only a two-point lead. Auburn made one free throw and also gained three valuable seconds as Bama had only five seconds to go the length of the court and try a three-point shot to tie at the end of the game. The shot, like the majority of Alabama attempts, missed. Walker had only two points for Alabama.

To its credit, Alabama fell behind by 10 points and played very well to have a chance to win. The Tide scored 13 straight points and had a three-point lead in the final moments. However, Auburn out-scored the Tide 6-3 in those final moments.

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