Tide wins for Green on senior night
"We talked about JaMychal Green's Senior Night before the game," Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said. "We knew anytime our two teams get together, it's going to be emotional, and then there's the emotion of a Senior Night.
"I think at the end of the day, all our guys were playing to try to get ‘Mike' the win, and send him out the right way," Grant added.
Mission accomplished. It wasn't pretty, but Bama got the 55-49 decision against visiting Auburn.
Green, who had his 25th career double-double (most among active SEC players), agreed about both the emotions and the ugly win. "Last year (a two-point Tide win won by a Green tip with 0.3 to go) was worse, but it's always good to come out with a win, with this being my last game here, that's the way I'd like to go out," said Bama's only senior.
Green's fellow senior, Auburn's Kenny Gabriel, noticed that Green scored 13 of his 15 points in the final 20 minutes.
"(Green) did well," said Gabriel, Auburn‘s only man in double digits with 10 points. "The second half, he came out aggressive. He was getting fouls, and getting to the free throw line. They got him going."
Auburn Coach Tony Barbee didn't sound surprised.
"(Green) did what seniors are supposed to do," Barbee said. "You're not supposed to depend on freshmen and sophomores. Your seniors are supposed to finish the game and create the win. I thought Green did that tonight for them."
Green had but two points at intermission. What was Auburn doing to limit the 6-8, 228-pounder early?
"Nothing, Barbee said. "He just missed some shots he typically makes."
Green didn't panic. The senior knew a half is an eternity in SEC basketball.
"There were 20 minutes left in the game," Green said. "I just had to refocus. It was a close game. We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game, and we were prepared."
It's noteworthy that Alabama (20-9, 9-6 SEC) made only 14 baskets, and won the game due to a 24-for-32 performance at the foul line, compared to Auburn's 5-12.
Said Green, "Our shots weren't falling tonight, so we had to go to the basket and get to the free throw line." Green made 7-for-10 at the line, and 4-11 from the floor. He added an assist and a block in his final 33 minutes at Coleman Coliseum. He also had a huge tip-in, like last year, to help ice the game. This year, the tap was off a Trevor Lacey miss, and put Bama up 51-47 with just 34 seconds left (as opposed to 0.3 last year).
"It was a big shot for us," Green said. "It put us up by four. Then, we just had to make our free throws, and we did that." Including Green, who canned a pair for a five-point lead with five seconds left.
Bama won the battle of the boards, 39-31, and allowed the Tigers but three offensive rebounds.
"We knew we had to go out and out-rebound them," Green said. "I just tried to focus on that."
Green's long-time roommate Andrew Steele (four points, six boards) was happy for his friend, and determined to help send Green out with a ‘W.'
"That was good," Steele said. "As much as he has meant to the program, we wanted to send him out on the right note. I'm just proud of how much he's grown, and how he's become a leader.
"Plus, it was against Auburn."
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