AUBURN 86, ALABAMA 77
KEYS TO THE GAME
*Creating a frenzied offensive attack by pushing the tempo in transition kept Alabama's defense out of alignment.
*F Quan Prowell scored 15 points in the second half, emerging as the go-to scorer.
*PG DeWayne Reed channeled his speed in useful ways Saturday. He's been totally out of control at times this season. Reed made some mistakes this time, but he was pretty calm and calculating overall. He finished with five assists and five turnovers.
*Auburn out-rebounded Alabama, 32-30.
*SG Rasheem Barrett and G Kelvin Lewis came off the bench to hit a pair of three-point shots apiece.
*Great late-game work at the free-throw line for the Tigers. They hit 14 of their last 18.
*Auburn, now 6-8 in SEC play, still has a chance to finish in the top half of the Western Division. The two remaining games: at home against LSU (2/28) and at Ole Miss on March 3.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Auburn F Quan Prowell: He scored 17 points (including 15 in the second half) and added five rebounds. His trio of three-point shots in the second half helped the Tigers overcome Alabama's rally.
AU, 86-77 (final): Auburn finished 14 of 18 at the free-throw line during the final two minutes. That's pretty impressive. The Tigers earned a season sweep against Alabama for the first time since 1999. It's only their second win in Tuscaloosa in 23 seasons.
AU, 84-75 (:24, 2nd): Auburn hit its free throws. Well, enough of them. The team is 12 of 16 at the free-throw line since the 1:39 mark.
AU, 80-68 (1:12, 2nd): Quantez Robertson is now 4 of 4 from the line during the past minute. Frank Tolbert is 2 for 2. Dewayne Reed is 2 for 2. Auburn is going to win. This isn't a great team, but this is an important win for the Tigers.
AU, 74-68 (1:27, 2nd): This is going to go into Auburn free-throw mode now. Let's see if the Tigers can make it happen at the line. They were terrible there early in the season. They've been better recently.
AU, 72-63 (1:50, 2nd): Auburn is trying to get this thing home with one headlight. The offense is a mess, but the team is getting enough one-man baskets to stay ahead. Nothing is coming easy. That may not matter. It's late.
AU, 70-61 (3:32, 2nd): Auburn's offense has lost its swerve. F Frank Tolbert just scored on a powerful drive down the lane. The guy never fails to impress me with his verve. I think his mind moves so fast that pressure doesn't bother him. Pressure would be a distraction for Tolbert, who's always tracking the ball like a bird dog. He has downside, sure, but his effort always is there.
AU, 68-59 (5:33, 2nd): Alabama is making its surge. PF Richard Hendrix is mauling the Tigers inside. Three times in the past three minutes, Hendrix has collected missed shots and either scored directly or scored on free-throw shots. Auburn must make an adjustment there.
AU, 68-53 (7:14, 2nd): F Quan Prowell just made what has become a typical play today. When Auburn's offense didn't produce an easy basket, Prowell just popped out along the perimeter and cashed out a three-point shot. He has 13 points in this half already.
AU, 63-48 (8:59, 2nd): Auburn just had a 90-second possession. Kept missing, kept getting offensive rebounds. It ended with a turnover. Doesn't help Alabama's cause much. The Tide needs to keep this game going.
AU, 61-44 (11:35, 2nd): Auburn is pressing the tempo. I mean, it is doing everything possible to get the ball down the court as quickly as possible. That plan seems to be working. The Tigers are up 17 points. This is nuts. I know this isn't the best Tide team ever -- and PG Ronald Steele is hurt -- but Auburn rarely wins in Tuscaloosa. This looks like a different Auburn team: Patient, shrewd, calculating.
AU, 49-40 (15:46, 2nd): Still thriving on offense. Something that struck me is how much progress I'm seeing from PG Dewayne Reed in terms of his ball-handling. He cannot shoot a lick, but Reed is exceptionally quick with the ball. He was spazzing out early in the season. He's more calm now. He may be a good distributive point after all.
AU, 44-34 (18:33, 2nd): Wow. Great start for the Tigers, who have scored on each of their first three possessions of the second half. They've been what I call "system baskets". They're basically scripted plays - and they've been working perfectly. Barber, F Quan Prowell and G Frank Tolbert have taken passes along the baseline and popped up for easy scores. Auburn is exposing a problem with the Tide's defense. It's weak in that low corner.
*Auburn leads, 38-34.
*Auburn is playing excellent defense on Alabama SF Alonzo Gee. It's Gee who seems to kill Auburn most of the time, so coach Jeff Lebo is making sure that doesn't happen this time. Gee is scoreless in 14 minutes so far.
*The Tide's offense makes no sense to me. They have such a major advantage inside with C Jermareo Davidson and PF Richard Hendrix. Though they have combined to score 16 points, a lot of those are from cleaning up after missed shots.
*Reed is 0 for 4. He has to be the worst shooter in the SEC. Just has to be.
*PF Korvotney Barber is balling today. More to come on that.