Second Half Surge Leads Auburn Past Bama

Auburn beat rival Alabama to snap a six-game basketball losing streak and improve to 9-13 overall, 3-6 in the SEC. Alabama dropped to 14-8, 6-3.

Auburn, Ala.--After struggling from an energy standpoint and struggling to make baskets for 22 minutes of basketball on Wednesday night, Auburn got an emotional surge in the second half to come back and defeat Alabama 49-37.

Alabama's point total was the lowest ever by the Tide in the 146 games played between Auburn and Alabama.

Perhaps it was coincidence, perhaps not, but Auburn was down 26-17 when former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton moved from his seats on the baseline to the Auburn student section from where led the cheers with a megaphone and the Tigers went on a 16-0 run.

"I was (aware)," Allen Payne said of Newton. "I hate to admit it that I was paying attention to the student section, but I saw him out there leading cheers. It's good that he comes back and helps us out like that."

Cam Newton was enjoying the action at Auburn Arena on Wednesday night.

Payne and senior Josh Wallace led Auburn with 11 points apiece.

"I just heard the crowd," Wallace said, "so it just pumped me up. It was great that he was leading them on.

"They were great," Wallace added, "and a shout out to Cam for leading on the cheers."

Wallace gave Auburn its first lead of the contest on a steal and layup with 13:38 to go in the game to make the score 27-26.

Payne and Wallace combined for 20 points in the second half, which is six more than all of the Alabama team. However, Auburn had a dismal first half offensively. The Tigers made just 3-23 shots from the field (13 percent) and found themselves down 15-2 with less than 9:30 remaining.

They cut it to four with two minutes to play, but Alabama's Trevor Releford had six quick points on drives to the basket and free throws as Alabama grew its lead to 23-13.

"Keep guarding," head coach Tony Barbee said of his message to the team at halftime. "It was a very simple message. We had a lot of good looks. We didn't get them to go down. I thought we guarded well enough. I just told them to keep guarding and get though on the backboard – just play confident."

Barbee was 0-5 all-time versus Alabama coming into the game.

"This is a big game," he noted. "No matter what rivalry you are a part of, you always want to beat your rival. We understand how big this game is in the state and within the Auburn Family."

Barbee's message got across to his team in the second half as the Tigers defended and attacked the glass.

The Tide led 26-17 before Auburn went on its run. When Auburn scored its 16 consecutive points it was game over in such a low-scoring affair in which Alabama scored just 14 second-half points.

The Crimson Tide was 6-24 shooting from the floor, 1-12 on threes, settled for jumpers all second half and was only 1-2 from the foul line.

Auburn out-rebounded Alabama 18-10 in the final 20 minutes.

Wallace drives on Alabama's Levi Randolph.

Payne played a crucial part in the second half defensively and ran over to the student section when the clock hit double zeroes.

"I got chills--I'm not even going to lie--at the end when the clock was ticking down and Josh had the ball," he explained. "I went over to the crowd. It was just how it felt for us to beat Alabama for the first time for us, and for Coach. It was his first win here at Auburn versus Alabama. It was just a great feeling all the way around."

Payne had a message for the energized student section at the end of the game. "You guys did this," he yelled. "You guys helped us win the game. The energy was great. There's nothing like The Jungle."

The 37 points allowed were the fewest by an Auburn SEC opponent since Arkansas on Jan. 11, 2003.

Auburn won despite just seven points from the team's leading scorer for the season, Frankie Sullivan, who was 1-13 from the field.

"It was special," Wallace said of the win. "Before me and Frankie went out, we were talking that it was our last go-around. We just needed to turn it around and go out on a good note. It was our last time to play Alabama here so there was no better way to go out at home than beating Alabama. It was a good feeling."

Auburn shot 57 percent from the floor in the second half to out-score Alabama 36-14.

Alabama had two players in double digits scoring, Releford and Rodney Cooper, both with 11 points.

Auburn's next game is at Kentucky on Saturday.

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