The Alabama basketball team played without its marquee freshman on Wednesday night — which didn’t mean it was out of marquee freshmen.
With Collin Sexton out, John Petty picked up the scoring slack and Herbert Jones did a good bit of everything, leading Alabama to a 76-71 win over No. 17 Auburn and snapping the Tigers’ NCAA-leading 14-game winning streak.
Sexton was a game-time scratch from the lineup with what UA coach Avery Johnson described as “an abdominal injury.” He said Sexton was injured in the Crimson Tide’s Monday practice and would be evaluated again on Friday.
Petty’s sizzling 3-point shooting (8 for 13 from beyond the arc) was the offensive key for Alabama.
“I get open, I shoot it,” Petty said.
Dazon Ingram added 16 points — 10 of those from the foul line — and Jones filled in the rest of the box score. The freshman from Moundville scored 11 points, grabbed seven rebounds and added four assists and four steals. He also contributed to the defensive effort that held Auburn (16-2, 4-1 SEC) to its lowest scoring output of the season, and served as the Crimson Tide’s primary ballhandler for much of the second half.
“It’s the first time since high school I’ve played the point,” Jones said, “but I can play off the ball or play with the ball in my hands if they need me.”
Alabama got off to a fast start, jumping out to a 14-5 lead in the first six minutes. Turnovers took a toll on the offense, however, and Auburn took a 33-30 halftime lead on a buzzer-beating 25-foot 3-pointer by Chuma Okeke.
Alabama took the lead for good, 38-37, on a jumper by Jones with 17:20 remaining and pushed the advantage to as many as 13 points before an Auburn rally made things close at the end.
The Tigers had a chance at a game-tying 3-pointer but Bryce Brown stepped on the sideline before he could shoot with 2.1 seconds remaining.
The win snapped a three-game Alabama losing streak against AU.
“We did not play well, we did not have a lot of energy and I’m not sure why,” AU coach Bruce Pearl said. “And yet, we still had a chance.
“That’s the most talented team we’ve played. Not many teams have playmakers like Herb Jones and Dazon Ingram, even with Collin out, and Petty shooting from the wing.”
Brown led Auburn with 12 points. Desean Murray added an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double for AU.
Donta Hall, who had wrist surgery five days ago, played 15 minutes for Alabama, scoring two points and grabbing five rebounds.
“I hadn’t planned to play him but he came to me before the game and said ‘Coach, I need to play. I’m a captain, and it’s what about what’s on the front of the jersey.’”
Johnson also noted that the game was important from a rivalry standpoint.
“We were 0-2 against this team last year,” he said. “They’re our rival. Everyone understanding the magnitude of this game. We know how they celebrated here and when they won at home. So I talked a lot more about the rivalry than I have in the past. We embraced that challenge.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.