The Alabama women’s basketball team can thank itself for creating such a tough act to follow. It had been a while since the Crimson Tide players were cheery in a postgame presser — three-and-a-half weeks, actually — but Thursday’s upset victory over the Lady Vols produced plenty of smiles from coach Kristy Curry and her team.

But things haven’t always been so giddy during the grinding conference schedule. Last month’s contest against Auburn certainly proved that. Similar to the game against Tennessee, Alabama led for the first three quarters of the game. However, instead of shutting the door on the Tigers, Auburn ran an offensive clinic in the final 10 minutes to bury UA by 11 points. There were no high-fives afterward.

The game was wide-open, until it wasn’t. Katie Frerking’s 20 points for Auburn, including 12 in fourth quarter, was the reason why. The second time around Alabama will try limit her impact at all costs, and although her offense was enough to shake the Crimson Tide, it hasn’t been quite as impactful since.

Auburn is without a conference win since last month’s victory over the Crimson Tide, however, the team’s five-game losing streak does include losses to the SEC’s top three teams, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Texas A&M. Since her 20-point performance against the Crimson Tide, Frerking has scored under 15 points four times in five games, and in her last matchup against Ole Miss she scored 13 points while making just four of 20 shots from the floor.

Should Alabama choose to play man-to-man on defense, Shaquera Wade will likely be the answer to Auburn’s elite scorer. At six feet tall, Wade only surrenders one inch to Frerking, and her speed and athleticism stand out on defense.

Wade’s presence is felt on the offensive side of the ball as well. Her 9.9 points per game ranks third on the team, but she also creates offense without putting the ball in the basket. The sophomore’s 46 steals and 52 offensive rebounds have generated just shy of 100 extra possessions for the Crimson Tide this year.

A win for Alabama would split the two games between Crimson Tide and the Tigers this season, and tie the in-state rivals in the conference standings.

Alabama women’s basketball

Alabama at Auburn

When: 6 p.m. CST

Where: Auburn Arena, Auburn, Ala.

Records: Auburn 15-12 (5-8), Alabama 16-10 (4-9)

Radio: 100.1 FM