Alabama at Auburn
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Where: Auburn Arena, Auburn
Records: Alabama (13-7, 4-3 SEC), Auburn (14-6, 3-4 SEC)
Radio: 95.3 FM
Avery Johnson can prepare his team for the sound. The question is, can he prepare them for the flurry?
Auburn Arena will be loud Saturday, with fans close to the floor and hostile in demeanor as Alabama visits for an SEC game. The noise, though it might affect momentum, doesn’t put points on the board and that is Johnson’s first concern after watching AU roll up 58 points in the second half of its Wednesday win against Missouri.
That 92-58 victory snapped a three-game SEC losing streak for the Tigers, who are now looking to get back into SEC contention in a three-game homestand.
“It’s not always the threes that they make,” Johnson said on Thursday in a media opportunity in Alabama’s practice facility. “It’s the attempts. They had 41 attempts last night (against Missouri.)”
By way of comparison, the most 3-point attempts by any Alabama opponent this season has been 25 by Penn State, a number Auburn is very likely to exceed. Johnson is quick to point out, however, that Auburn isn’t just blindly firing away.
“With the exception of maybe one post player, everyone on their team can shoot,” Johnson said. “When they get out of their cars or walk from their dorm to the arena, they can shoot the 3-pointer. We’ve got to be aware of how they put you in that position, how it affects their offensive rebounding, all of those things.”
Senior guard Bryce Brown, who attempts almost nine 3-pointers per game, is Auburn’s most prolific shooter but Tiger head coach Bruce Pearl can put a lineup with five 3-point shooters on the floor if he chooses.
Auburn’s cozy arena can also make it loud, especially when the 3-pointers start falling. That’s an added concern for Alabama, whose ball handling in the closing minutes of close games has been suspect.
“We haven’t handled it well,” Johnson said. “We haven’t been a great road team. I don’t know if you (media) guys heard it today but we piped some noise in here today. I know a lot of football teams do that so we borrowed a page from their book. It was really, really loud in here today.
“We just wanted to give our players a little bit of a feel of what they’re going to hear. We just didn’t use the bad language.”
Pearl said on Friday that AU center Austin Wiley (lower right leg injury) is “doubtful” to play against Alabama. Wiley had 19 points and nine rebounds in Auburn’s home win over Alabama in 2017 but missed all of last season due to injury and eligibility issues.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.