For a brief moment, when Tevin Mack hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 90 seconds to play, the Alabama men’s basketball team looked like it might change the pattern it has followed all season.

Instead, Alabama followed that horror-film script to perfection, or imperfection, depending on your point of view.

The Crimson Tide, as it has with brain-numbing consistency in 2019, blew a double-digit second-half lead, faltered in the final minute and lost to Auburn 66-60, a victory that gave the Tigers a sweep of the regular-season series between the two teams.

One regular-season game against Arkansas remains, but Alabama’s waning NCAA Tournament hopes probably depend on an unimaginable run through the SEC Tournament.

Mack’s 3-pointer from the corner tied the game 60-60 with 1:30 to play, but Alabama never came close to a defensive stop or a decent offensive possession in those final 90 seconds. Tiger point guard Jared Harper broke the tie with an easy layup at the 1:09 mark.

Alabama’s Kira Lewis took a stumbling shot that attained a maximum height of nine feet. That gave Auburn a second possession with Harper again scoring on a layup. Alabama then turned the ball over twice in its final possessions.

“It was not our best second half,” said Alabama head coach Avery Johnson. “We turned it over too much (and) it’s hard for us to get our defense set when we do that. We’re still trying to put our finger on why we don’t have the effort and energy in the second half and don’t make good decisions with the basketball.”

Alabama led 34-23 at halftime and was up 43-31 with 14:55 to play, but gave up an 18-2 run over the next seven minutes.

“We just didn’t take good care of the ball in the second half,” said Alabama forward Herbert Jones. “I think we had 12 turnovers (actually 11) and they did a good job of taking away our open looks that we had in the first half.”

Auburn’s Chuma Okeke had a big game, scoring 17 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and defending Lewis on Alabama’s final attempt to tie the game.

“He was the difference in the game, he and Harper,” said Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl. “Chuma is a nightmare to match up with, and I thought they were the two best players on the floor tonight.”

Harper added 16 points as Auburn raised its record to 21-9, 10-7 in the SEC.

Lewis led Alabama (17-13, 8-9 SEC) with 13 points.

“I’m very, very disappointed but I’m not disappointed to the point where we aren’t going to get back to practice on Thursday,” Johnson said. “I know we let a lot of people down…but we still have the opportunity to end the season on a high note.”

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.


SCORING SUMMARY

Auburn 66, Alabama 60

Auburn (21-9)

Okeke 6-11 4-4 17, McLemore 2-7 0-0 5, Harper 6-13 3-5 16, Brown 2-10 1-2 7, Doughty 2-5 2-2 7, Purifoy 0-0 0-0 0, Spencer 1-4 0-0 2, McCormick 2-3 0-0 4, Dunbar 3-7 1-1 8. Totals 24-60 11-14 66.

Alabama (17-13)

Hall 2-3 0-0 4, Lewis 4-9 4-5 13, Ingram 2-3 1-2 5, Petty 2-7 3-5 8, Mack 4-10 0-0 10, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Giddens 0-1 0-0 0, A.Johnson 0-1 2-2 2, Jones 5-8 1-2 11, Norris 3-7 0-0 7. Totals 22-49 11-16 60.

Halftime: Alabama 34-23. 3-Point Goals: Auburn 7-25 (Brown 2-10, Okeke 1-1, Doughty 1-2, Dunbar 1-4, McLemore 1-4, Harper 1-4), Alabama 5-19 (Mack 2-7, Lewis 1-3, Norris 1-4, Petty 1-4, A.Johnson 0-1). Fouled Out: None. Rebounds: Auburn 31 (Okeke 14), Alabama 32 (Petty 9). Assists: Auburn 8 (Okeke 3), Alabama 10 (Lewis, Jones 3). Total Fouls: Auburn 14, Alabama 16. Technicals: Doughty, Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, Hall.

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