Cold-Shooting Tigers Fall 73-57

Auburn made just 27.5 percent of its field goals in an SEC basketball loss at Tuscaloosa on Saturday.

Tuscaloosa, Ala.--Auburn came out really cold shooting the basketball on Saturday and never warmed up as Alabama took a 73-57 homecourt victory over the Tigers to even the season series.

K.T. Harrell scored 21 points to lead the Tigers in scoring, but like his teammates he had trouble putting the ball in the basket in a game in which he was the only player on the visiting team to score in double figures.

Chris Denson, the SEC's leading scorer, finished the game with just six points as he hit 2-15 field goals. His previous low scoring game of his senior year came back in December when he finished with just eight points vs. Illinois at Philips Arena.

"It's just one of those nights--everybody's had them," Coach Tony Barbee said of Denson's game.

"You are not going to win a lot of games on the road shooting 27 percent," he said of his team's play. "Yeah, there is a way you can--not letting the other team shoot 49 percent."

Barbee added, "You have got to guard whether your offense is going or not."

The Tide did much of its damage from long-range, hitting 10-18 threes while Auburn made just 5-27.

That was more than enough to negate Auburn's 46-38 rebounding edge, which helped lead to the Tigers taking 69 shots, 20 more than the home team.

"That is fool's gold when you look at a stat sheet and see you had 20 more shots than them," Barbee said. "All that means is you missed a lot of shots and collected a lot them and missed a lot more."

For the game the Tigers made just 19-69 field goals. Harrell took 19 shots and made seven of them.

"They just had way more energy than us today and we couldn't match it," Harrell said. "They made a lot of open shots and had good looks, and we shot 27 percent from the field. Whenever you put up that type of offensive performance and you can't stops and it ends in a result like this."

Barbee agreed with Harrell. "Our energy wasn't where it needed to be,"?the coach said. "That was clear."

Allen Payne scored nine points and pulled in eight rebounds for the Tigers while Asauhn Dixon-Tatum scored eight points and led all rebounders with 11.

Alabama got 24 points from Levi Randolph, who added nine rebounds. Trevor Releford scored 16 points and added seven assists for the Tide.

Auburn dropped below .500 on the season at 3-14 and fell to 5-11 in the SEC. Alabama improved to 12-17 overall and 6-10 in the conference.

Auburn led briefly early in the game, but Alabama took control with its three-point shooting in the opening half. The Tide hit 6-10 threes and 48 percent overall from the field to build a 36-21 halftime advantage.

Harrell said the Tigers weren't aggressive enough offensively against Alabama's zone defense. "I think we were being too passive," the senior pointed out. "We weren't driving the ball like we should have."

The junior from Montgomery added, "We didn't go out there with the mentality to really guard and lock up."

In addition to Alabama's good shooting from three, Auburn's other major issue in the opening half was poor shooting. The Tigers made just 8-29 field goals for 27.6 percent in the first 20 minutes. The deficit at halftime would have been worse if Auburn hadn't managed to make 4-10 treys.

Auburn had several opportunities to cut the lead to single figures in the second half thanks to a more scrappy approach to the game, but the shooting again failed the Tigers and that gave the Tide enough breathing room to put away their rival in a game played before lots of empty seats at Coleman Coliseum with the crowd listed as 13,499.

"I thought our guys came out with great energy right from the start," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "Defensively, I thought we were outstanding. They did a great job of locking in the scouting report and making it uncomfortable overall doing the things they had success with the last game."

Stat of the Game: Auburn made 19 field goals and missed 50. Alabama, which was 23-49 from the field, had half as many misses as the Tigers.

Worth Noting, Part 1: Alabama's bench outscored Auburn's bench 17-9 and the Tide held an 8-2 advantage in fastbreak points.

Worth Noting, Part 2: Barbee is now 0-4 coaching the Tigers in games at Coleman Coliseum.

The Tigers return to action on Wednesday at 7 p.m. vs. Tennessee in their final home game of the season.

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