AUBURN — By the time Alabama got started on Wednesday night, it seemed almost too far behind to matter.
Instead, it mattered.
The Crimson Tide erased a 16-point deficit and forced overtime, launching an SEC-record number of 3-pointers in the process, but No. 11 Auburn won its third straight overtime game and evened the season series with a 95-91 overtime win.
The Crimson Tide fell behind 16-0 after the first media timeout and erased all of that deficit, then overcame another 12-point deficit with under 10 minutes to play, tying the game at 81-81 on a John Petty 3-pointer with 14.3 seconds to play.
Samir Dougherty triggered an 8-0 run to start overtime for the Tigers and while Alabama cut the lead down to two points, 93-91, with 23.9 seconds to go, the Crimson Tide tried to press and steal the ball in the backcourt but missed narrowly and fouled with 17 seconds left. Doughty made two free throws and Petty missed a final long 3-pointer, Alabama’s 59th.
“That’s probably a few too many threes,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “Not the 22 makes. I’ll take all the makes I can get. But they dominated us on the boards (60-44) and the free throw difference (39-16) was significant. But if we aren’t driving to the basket, we aren’t going to get as many fouls.
“I was proud of the way we fought back but we’ve got to figure out how to stop runs. We knew they were going to be angry and it was going to be loud but we got outrebounded 11-1 before the first media timeout. Maybe I should have called a time out but at some point, they have to play through it and they did.”
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl also noted the different styles of play in explaining the game’s back-and-forth runs.
“It’s hard to play them man-to-man because they are so small and we are so much bigger,” Pearl said. “We had the advantage on the inside, they had it on the outside. They made 22 3-pointers, but they missed 37 and only made eight two’s. That’s a lot of misses and we rebounded a lot of them. Austin Wiley was a man inside. It was a memorable game.”
Wiley had 18 points, 17 rebounds and five blocked shots for AU (22-2, 9-2 SEC.) Isaac Okoro, who pulled a hamstring late in regulation, had 19 points for the Tigers.
Jaden Shackelford led Alabama (13-11, 5-6 SEC) with 28 points. Kira Lewis had a triple-double with 10 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds.
Herb Jones, playing less than two weeks after wrist surgery, saw 13 minutes of action.
Alabama returns to SEC play on Saturday, hosting No. 25 LSU.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @cecilhurt.