Auburn, Ala.--A monster performance on the boards by Cinmeon Bowers and four players scoring in double figures sparked the Auburn Tigers to an 83-77 SEC basketball victory over Alabama on Tuesday night at Auburn Arena.
Bowers, a senior forward, scored 20 points and pulled down 18 rebounds to the delight of a standing-room only crowd. It was his eighth double-double of the season.
Junior point guard Kareem Canty overcame playing with a sore ankle to lead the Tigers in scoring with 25 points while Tyler Harris scored 14 points and T.J. Lang added 11.
Kareem Canty, who hit 7-11 field goals, drives to the bucket vs. Bama.
Auburn, the SEC’s top three-point shooting team, hit 11-30 treys on the way to improving its record to 3-3 in the SEC and 9-8 overall.
Alabama was led by 27 points from Retin Obasohan whie Shannon Hale scored 13 points.
“I thought Bowers was that six-foot-seven gorilla out there that was just a man," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. "Inside and out, he played terrifically. Kareem was just Kareem doing what he does. Those guys kind of put us on their shoulders."
Commenting on Bowers, Pearl said, "He has been really locked in, he has been really focused. We are playing Cim at power forward and having him out there at power forward he has a good matchup out there because he can do things on the perimeter."
Tide coach Avery Johnson said he was impressed with Bowers. "He played with a lot of energy," Johnson said.
“I am awfully proud of our guys," Johnson pointed out. "If we can get this type of focus and effort on the road we are going to win a lot of basketball games." Hoever, the Tide coach added, "We didn’t do a good enough job of protecting the basketball and rebounding the basketball.”
Pearl said he was glad to get the victory in the books. “I wasn’t looking forward to playing Alabama because of how they guard and how tough their stuff is to guard,” he said.
The Tigers only made 39.3 percent of their field goals, but once again were effective from three-point range hitting 11-30 treys while Alabama made 8-30, which proved to be a key statistic in the game. The Tide shot 41.7 percent overall and was 19-28 at the foul line on a night when the officials were whistle-happy. Auburn went to the foul line 40 times and made 28.
Auburn held an edge in rebounds, 42-38, and turned the ball over 11 times, one more than the visitors, who fell to 10-7 overall and 1-4 in the SEC.
Auburn led 40-37 at the end of a first half that had runs by each team. Auburn jumped out to a 10-2 first half lead, but Alabama rallied and led by as many as 10 points at 24-14.
The lead changed nine times in the first half in which 24 fouls were called--11 on Auburn and 13 on the Tide.
Halftime Numbers: Auburn hit 10-25 field goals (40 percent) and was 7-15 on threes and 13-16 at the foul line. Alabama hit 12-28 field goals (42.8 percent), 5-16 threes and 8-12 free throws. Each team pulled 17 rebounds in the first half and the Tigers turned the ball over eight times, one more than the Tide.
Canty led the Tigers in first half scoring with 12 points as he hit 3-5 field goals (3-4 threes) and 3-3 free throws. Obasohan led the Tide in scoring with 11 in the half.
Auburn led the entire second half, but could never pull away from the Tide thanks to Obasohon, who hit 8-17 field goals, 3-6 treys and 8-10 free throws.
Horace Spencer came off the bench to score five points while adding eight rebounds for the Tigers and Jordon Granger scored five. Bryce Brown, who was 1-6 on threes, scored three points for Auburn's only other points.
"It matters to the Auburn family that we are able to be competitive in this rivalry," Pearl said. "It was a great effort by our kids--a great environment for college basketball."
Johnson said that Auburn Arena was a tough road environment for the Tide. “I think for a lot of our new guys it was eye opening. Other guys such as Retin, Jimmie (Taylor), Justin (Coleman), and Shannon (Hale) have been in it. For our team, we had some guys here last year that were averaging double figures and had a lot of experience. Those guys are not here anymore and have been replaced with freshmen and transfers that we are trying to help improve. "
Worth Noting, Part 1: Pearl improved his AU record to 1-2 vs. the Tide. Bowers said it was important to the players to make sure the Tigers won after being swept by the Tide last season. New Tide coach Avery Young is 0-1 vs. the Tigers and said he wished the two teams could play the following day in rematch.
Worth Noting, Part 2: The officiating crew of Joe Lindsay, Ron Groover and Darron George called 53 fouls. The game was called very differently than Saturday's contest with Kentucky. Lang said, “Basketball is a game of adjustments so it was just something we had to adjust to. After the first couple of times we realized that the game was going to be called close and adjusted to it.”
Worth Noting, Part 3: Canty is known for his long-range shooting. Against the Tide he nailed a shot from the edge of the AU logo at center court. “He made one 3-pointer that was at least two steps across half court," Johnson said. "That was un- guardable. I don’t think anybody in the SEC can guard that shot unless you run five guys at him."
Worth Noting, Part 4: The game was the seventh sellout at Auburn Arena with Pearl as head coach.
Stat of the Game: Bowers pulled 15 defensive rebounds and three offensive rebounds while playing 32 minutes. The turnover-prone senior finished with one turnover, two assists, one block and one steal.
Up Next: The Tigers play Saturday night at Florida.