Tigers Slam Dunk Tide, 81-57

A recap of Auburn's 24-point victory over arch-rival Alabama on Tuesday night.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn blew out No. 12 Alabama 81-57 by outscoring the Tide 46-21 in the final 20 minutes of play at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday night. The defensive pressure applied by the Tigers in the second half was the difference as Alabama turned the ball over 17 times in the game, five by point guard Ronald Steele.

Meanwhile, Auburn point guard Quantez Robertson had 10 assists, mostly in transition, to just two turnovers as four Tigers scored 14 or more points. Auburn outscored Alabama 18-6 in fast break points.

"We wanted to push the ball and get their subs in the game," said Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "We felt like we had a little advantage there if we could run the ball and use our speed with Quan Prowell, make (Richard) Hendrix and (Jermareo) Davidson run. To do that you've got to get some stops.

"We did a lot of trapping with the ball screens," Lebo adds. "We were pressuring a lot at every position and we felt we had a quickness advantage. We didn't play but one possession of zone in this game. Our quickness and our aggressiveness was the difference in this game. They couldn't get into anything offensively real easy."

Auburn led in the first half by as much as 10 points, but after some sloppy play by the Tigers just before halftime Alabama went to the locker room with momentum and a 36-35 lead. However, the Tigers came out with a high level of intensity in the second half and were plus-five on turnovers in the final 20 minutes.

"I thought our defensive effort in the second half was as good as it's been all year," Lebo noted. "Offensively we executed so well in the second half. Our quickness bothered them. It's a great win. It's a terrific and deserving win. That's as good as we can play in the second half. It's fun to watch if you're an Auburn fan."

It wasn't a memorable second half for Crimson Tide coach Mark Gottfried.

"We just didn't have a lot of poise," Gottfried said. "They made a couple of shots to start the half. We took ourselves out of position and made a lot of mistakes. I thought it was from a lack of poise. We just kind of broke down and that led to the second half that you saw.

"They played great," he added of Auburn. "You've got to give them credit. Their team is a lot better than they've been in the past."

Alabama had a difficult time stopping the Auburn penetration in the second half as the Robertson, Frank Tolbert and Rasheem Barrett were able to drive and dish down low to Korvotney Barber, who had 18 points on 8-11 shooting from the field, and Josh Dollard, who added 16 points on 7-13 shooting.

Tolbert, who didn't start because of a poor performance in the loss to Mississippi State, had and efficient 17 points on 6-8 from the field and didn't have a single turnover.

"We kept our composure," Tolbert noted. "At the end of the first half we were rushing shots and taking bad shots. In the second half we said we'd be patient. We came out in the second half and our lead starting getting bigger."

The first 20 minutes of action were back and forth as Alabama started the game with a dunk by Alonzo Gee. A three-pointer by Steele from the top of the key gave the Tide a 9-4 advantage, but the Tigers stormed back with a 15-0 run over the next three and a half minutes. During that stretch it was the defense that set up the offense as Prowell converted a steal into a dunk and Robertson dished out assists to Barrett and Prowell for easy baskets.

Led by Davidson, who had 16 points and eight rebounds by halftime, the Tide fought back from and 19-9 deficit and claimed the 36-35 lead on a dunk two seconds before halftime.

"Davidson hurt us in the first half and in the second half he only had two," Lebo said. "We did a pretty good job on him and much better in the second half."

Hendrix was limited in the first half because of three fouls and had just two points in 10 minutes of action. In the second half the large power forward added two points as well.

Korvotney Barber took advantage of Richard Hendrix's foul trouble and the Tide's lack of depth inside.

Barrett, who came in as the Tigers' leading scorer for the season, didn't have a great night offensively making 4-9 shots from the field, but did a great job of containing Gee, who beat up on Auburn twice last season. On Wednesday night Gee was held to 11 points on 5-11 shooting and six rebounds.

"They're a good basketball team," Lebo said of Alabama. "In the second half they couldn't get any kind of rhythm. They didn't shoot the ball particularly well in the second half. One of our keys to the game was Rasheem's defense. Alonzo Gee is a terrific offensive rebounder, one of the best in the country and he only had two, which was big."

Coming out of halftime Auburn took the lead on a Barber tip-in to claim a one-point advantage. The Tigers never looked back from that point. Prowell sank a three from the wing and Dollard hit a jumper as the Tigers scored the first seven points of the half. Alabama shunk their deficit to three on a floater by Davidson, but Auburn then went on a 9-0 scoring run capped off by a three by Frank Tolbert.

The Tigers made 6-13 shots from long range, while Alabama was just 5-19. Steele was 5-9 and his teammates were 0-10.

Auburn continued to poor it on with a trey from the corner by Barrett to extend the lead to 62-45 before Bama fought back again and cut it to 11 with eight minutes to play. However, Tolbert hit another from long range to swing momentum back to Auburn's favor and start the Tigers' 19-6 run to close the game.

"We executed our defensive scheme tonight," Tolbert explained. "We were trying to make it hard for them to get into their sets. We finally did it. We've just been working so hard and it's finally starting to show and pay off."

Steele was the game's leading scorer with 19.

Prowell had 14 points and 10 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double. Robertson had seven points on 3-3 shooting, all in the paint, to go with his 10 assists. Auburn had 22 assists as a team while Alabama had six.

Barber's 18 points was the highest for Auburn.

"It means a lot because they were picked to win the Western Division in the SEC and they're ranked No. 12 in the nation," Barber said after the big win. "It shows that we can play with anybody tonight. It's a big rival game and we had a packed crowd tonight. It was very fun to come out and beat them.

"I didn't think it would be by that much," he added, "but I had a good feeling that we were going to win because we've practiced hard and we were focused for the game."

The Tigers can't stay too high on this victory as the defending national champion and No. 1-ranked Florida Gators visit BEMC Saturday at 4 p.m.

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