"I thought they played terrific," Auburn Coach Jeff Lebo said of Alabama. "They could have beaten the Lakers, and if you didn't see it out there, we're not the Lakers. Our chance was for them to have a terrible game shooting from the perimeter. We had to pick whether they scored inside or out and they just shot the ball really well."
Alabama forward Chuck Davis hit 7-8 shots from the field and 4-4 free throws. He finished with 18 points, but more importantly he opened up the perimeter offense for Kennedy Winston and senior Earnest Shelton, who each scored 24 points.
"In the first half they were doubling me, and Kennedy was hot and hit every shot after I passed it to him," Davis said. "We were so hot that they couldn't double me as much in the second half. There was no reason why those smaller guys should have been able to guard me."
Winston hit 5-6 threes in the first half, and Shelton was the beneficiary of the Tide low post attack with 4-4 threes in the second half.
While Alabama made 11-22 threes for the game, Auburn made only 6-31 for 19.4 percent. The Tigers made only 1-20 in the second half.
"Our chance was for them to have a terrible game shooting from the perimeter," Lebo said. "We had to pick whether they scored inside or out and we had to shoot well. If we make them, we have a shot. If we don't, then this is what happens. It just didn't go tonight. We hit 6-31 and we probably needed about 16-31 to have a chance."
Alabama point guard Ronald Steele was limited with a thigh contusion and scored only two points in 16 minutes. Winston took over at the point for much of the game and excelled at the position.
"I was getting a lot of wide open looks in the first half," Winston said. "They did a good job of finding me out of the double team. Coach gave me the responsibility of running the offense and I liked it a lot. I did it my senior year of high school so it wasn't a big issue for me."
Lebo said following the game that he believed the six-foot-six swingman has the potential to make a splash in the NBA next season if he chooses to leave school early.
"Winston is terrific," Lebo said. "I love his ability to score in a lot of different ways. He's one of the best shooters in the country. If you leave him open the shot's going down. He can post, beat you off the dribble or spot up."
Alabama led by only 11 points at halftime and by nine early in the second half, but made 17-26 shots from the floor in the final 20 minutes to turn the game into a blowout and clear both benches.
"You like nights like this," Shelton said. "We didn't do that well in the first half, but we played great defense in the second half which led to offense. It was fun getting to see those other guys (seniors Lucky Williams and Jason Reese) that you practice with everyday get out there tonight."
Thirteen Auburn players saw the court and 12 players from Alabama got playing time.
For the game Auburn made only 18-62 shots for 29 percent and Alabama made 31-57 for 54.4 percent.
"We talked a lot about defending the three-point line and in the second half we extended our defense a little more," Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried said. "Shelton did a nice job in both games of defending (Toney Douglas). Douglas is going to be a really good player, but Earnest has done a real good job defensively down there and here against him."
Coming into the game Douglas was averaging 17.1 points and 5.3 rebounds, but was a non-factor Wednesday night with only seven points and one rebound.
The Tide's biggest lead in the first half was 16 points and its halftime lead was 41-30. Winston and Davis scored the Crimson Tide's final 12 points in the first half and 27 for their 41.
Winston led all scorers in the first 20 minutes with 17 points. The Tide committed only three turnovers in the first half with the first coming more than 13 minutes into the game. Auburn held its own against the much taller Tide in rebounding and trailed 18-17 in that category.
After getting called for six fouls in less than a one minute span, Auburn's biggest troubles of the first half came from fouls. Four of the five starters had two or more fouls at the break.
On a whistle-happy night in Coleman Coliseum which saw three technical fouls and 39 total, 27 by Auburn and 12 by Alabama, Tiger forward Daniel Hayles was foul-free in for the first 22 minutes of the game, but that quickly changed.
After picking up a phantom foul for his fourth in less than six minutes, Hayles went ahead and picked up the fifth on a technical by arguing with the officials.
Alabama's Shawn Taylor and Reese also picked up technicals for hanging on the rim. Reese hung on the rim for several seconds, pulled himself up and could have seriously injured Auburn's Troy Gaines, who Reese landed on, but the Tide fans, players and coaches just enjoyed the moment.
"That was crazy," Davis said. "I'm pretty sure that'll be on SportsCenter."
In a year that Auburn been on the losing side of several blowouts, the 41-point loss to the Crimson Tide was the worst of the year.
"I think they're very good," Lebo said. "I think they're one of the most underrated teams in the country at No. 19. They could have easily won the last two games (against LSU and Kentucky) and if they did they'd probably be in the Top 10. They don't have a lot of depth, but if they can stay out of foul trouble they'll be good. I think they could go far into postseason."
Auburn's leading scorer and rebounder for the game was Quinnel Brown with 17 points and eight boards. Brown made 6-6 foul shots and Auburn made 11-12 as a team. Alabama also shot well from the line, hitting 21-24. Shelton made all eight of his foul shots.
Although rebounding was nearly even in the first half, Alabama went to work on the glass in the second half and won that battle 42-31. The Tide also had only 10 turnovers, five fewer than the Tigers.
Auburn will finish the regular season at home Saturday against Arkansas at 1 p.m. The game will be televised on JP Sports.