AUBURN — Alabama’s postseason resume may survive a loss at Auburn.
Whether its collective ego can recover from the season’s most humiliating defeat remains to be seen.
The Crimson Tide, playing against a short-handed Auburn team, got singed by a fast start and scorched to ashes over the final 13 minutes as No. 12 Auburn rolled to a 90-71 win on Wednesday night.
The loss evened the season series at one homecourt win each.
Alabama weathered an initial 14-2 run by Auburn to open the game, tying the contest at 30-30 late in the first half and keeping with a workable margin at 53-50 on a Collin Sexton 3-pointer with 13:27 to play. Even at that point, the Crimson Tide was struggling to get stops. The Tigers went on a 14-5 run over the next five minutes, then applied the coup de grace with another 17-2 run later in the half.
“When you give up 50 points in a half, you don’t give yourself a chance,” said Alabama head coach Avery Johnson. “Were a team that doesn’t give up 50 points in a game sometimes. But we’ve struggled on the road in the whole SEC season with this team the whole season. We need to get home, get some home cooking and get ready for the next game. There’s still a lot of the season left.”
Auburn was playing without center Anfernee McLemore, out for the year with an injury, and forward Mustapha Heron but the Crimson Tide was unable to generate much inside offense as Donta Hall and Daniel Giddens combined to make just three of five shots for seven points.
“They did a good job of finding Donta,” Johnson said. “A guy is shooting 75 percent, you are going to find him, right? And when you aren’t making shots, people are going to be less afraid to leave him open.
“We’ve got to make open shots on the road. We had some shots where there was no one between us and Tuscaloosa and we didn’t hit them.”
Alabama also didn’t match Auburn’s second-half intensity, according to freshman guard Collin Sexton.
“I felt like we didn’t hustle in the second half,” said Sexton, who led all scorers with 25 points.
Point guard Jared Harper led Auburn (24-4, 12-3 SEC) with 21 points while reserve Chuma Okeke had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“It’s special,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said of winning the game with two starters out. “It’s special beyond compare.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.