For the final two minutes, the University of Alabama basketball team played with the intensity befitting an in-state rivalry.
The other 38 minutes, though, were void of such passion.
Instead, those minutes were filled primarily with Auburn 3-pointers as the Tigers finished a sweep of the 2017 in-state series with an 82-77 win at Coleman Coliseum. Auburn eclipsed the 80-point scoring plateau in both its wins.
Alabama did avoid a blowout, rallying from a 78-64 deficit with 2:24 remaining to cut the Tiger lead to four points, 78-74, on a Dazon Ingram dunk. But AU hit four of six free throws in the final minute to clinch the win.
Auburn made 15 of 27 3-point shots in the game and had five scorers in double figures as they won in Tuscaloosa for the first time since 2009.
“There are some places where you win and they don’t count any different in the win-loss column, but they just matter more,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said in his post-game press conference.
Alabama coach Avery Johnson said the Crimson Tide never seemed to get on track.
“Early in the game, we had five quick turnovers and combine that with them shooting so well, that hurt us,” Johnson said. “Then the first five minutes of the second half, we just didn’t generate enough offense. We’ve got to do more there.
“Rarely have I seen a team come into our building and score more than 40 points in each half. Coleman Coliseum has to become a place where teams don’t want to come and play and we haven’t established that yet.
“The crowd gave us their all, but we didn’t give our all.”
Auburn came out blazing away from 3-point range, making seven of its first 11 3-point attempts and building a 36-25 lead on a Bryce Brown 3-pointer with 6:06 remaining in the half. Fatigue and the Alabama defense combined to hold the Tigers to just five points over the remainder of the half, with the Crimson Tide cutting its halftime deficit to just two points, 41-39.
Alabama scored just four points in the first seven minutes of the second half and while Auburn started slowly as well, the Crimson Tide was never able to get closer than a one-point deficit.
The Tigers then went on an 18-6 run that included four 3-pointers, building its lead to 69-54 with 7:06 to go and maintaining that edge until Alabama’s late 10-0 run.
Ronnie Johnson came off the bench to score 15 points while Danjel Purifoy and Jared Harper added 14 each.
Braxton Key and Corban Collins each scored 17 points for Alabama (13-9, 6-4 SEC).
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.