Alabama at Auburn Preview

Auburn is coming off a 91-88 loss at Mississippi State. The Tigers scored a season high in points, but Mississippi State was on fire from behind the arc, and Auburn missed some key free throws down the stretch which proved to be the difference in the game. Varez Ward had a career high in scoring versus the Bulldogs, scoring 24 points and continuing his hot play as of late. Kenny Gabriel is averaging 19 points and 9.5 rebounds his last two games. Sophomore guard Allen Payne got the start against the Bulldogs and answered the call with a solid 10-point, nine-rebound performance.

Alabama has won two straight games after losing four straight. The Tide's last two wins have come at home over Arkansas and Ole Miss. The Rebels took the Tide to two overtimes before Alabama finally sealed the deal, winning 69-67. JaMychal Green led Alabama with 16 points and 12 boards, while Tony Mitchell pitched in 14 points off the bench.

Auburn-Alabama Series History and Game Facts

Auburn head coach: Tony Barbee (UMass '93)
at Auburn; 24-30 (.444), second year

Overall: 106-82 (.564), sixth year

Alabama head coach: Anthony Grant (Dayton '87)
at Alabama: 56-34 (.622), third year

Overall: 132-59 (.691), sixth year

Series Notes

Series Record: Alabama leads 87-56
at Auburn: Auburn leads 26-25
at Auburn Arena; Alabama leads 1-0
at Tuscaloosa: Alabama leads 43-8
at Coleman Coliseum: Alabama leads 36-7
Neutral sites: Auburn leads 22-19
Current streak: three by Alabama
Last meeting: Alabama 51, Auburn 49 (Feb. 23, 2011, at Tuscaloosa)

Tigers on the Air

TV: ESPNU

Radio: Auburn IMG Sports Network
Air time: 7:30 pm CST
Play-by-play: Rod Bramblett, Color: Daymeon Fishback
Internet broadcast on AuburnTigers.com
Follow the Tigers on Twitter: @AUBasketball

Alabama Scouting Report

Alabama has had an up-and-down season. The Tide played close with Kentucky and beat a good Arkansas team but lost badly to Vanderbilt and Kansas State. Alabama has struggled to score all year and has won the majority of its games by playing tough defense. JaMychal Green is the go-to guy in the Tide's offense, they seem to play much better when he gets his touches. Guard Trevor Releford has been solid but hasn't produced quite like people expected him too. Freshman Trevor Lacey had some solid games earlier in the year but has been a non-factor as of late. Forward Tony Mitchell was suspended Monday. Mitchell has been the Tide's second-best scorer and rebounder and is one of the most athletic players in the country. It will be interesting to see how Alabama adjusts without having Mitchell in the lineup. Alabama will not push the ball much on offense; the Tide usually likes to slow the game down and rely on its defense. Alabama, like Auburn, can look very stagnant on offense at times and sometimes downright lost in the halfcourt. Alabama struggles mightily from beyond the arc and likes to get most of its points in the paint. With Mitchell out, scoring in the paint falls on JaMychal Green. Look for Auburn to zone Alabama early and often and make the Tide beat the Tigers from outside. Alabama will play a swarming defense and will press early and often. Look for Varez Ward to play a lot of minutes, since he is the Tigers' only true point guard.

Key Stats

Alabama (65.0) is outscoring Auburn (58.6) in SEC play. These are two of the lowest scoring teams in the league, and it should stay that way tonight. Both teams struggle from beyond the arc and look very out of sync on offense at times.

Auburn (64.4) is giving up a couple more points in conference play than is Alabama (62.9), but both teams rely on their defenses to keep them in ball games. Auburn (13.4) is forcing more turnovers per game than Alabama (12.9), and both teams turn the ball over about the same 13.2 and 13.5, respectively. Auburn and Alabama will both look to make the other team beat them with jump shots and outside shooting. Auburn has a few more weapons from outside than does Alabama. Auburn has a pure shooter in Frankie Sullivan, where Alabama lacks a knockdown guy.

The teams have identical rebound numbers, with both pulling down 36.2 boards a game. Auburn, however, is getting outrebounded by its opponets by a margin of 1.2, while Alabama is outrebounding its opponets by 2.6. The thing to remember here is that the Tide's second leading rebounder, Mitchell, is out of the game, and that could prove a difference in a game where rebounding will play a big role.

Both teams will probably play a zone defense for the majority of the game, so it will be key for both teams to rebound well out of the zone and limit second chance points. Look for Auburn to try to get Frankie Sullivan and Kenny Gabriel involved early, since both players could shoot the Tide out of its zone defense.

It's also worth noting the Tigers are 12-1 at Auburn Arena this year, with the one loss coming to Kentucky. Auburn is a different team at home, especially late in games, so look for the Tigers to feed off the crowd on both sides of the ball.

This game has all the makings of a defensive struggle, and points will come at a premium. If Auburn can get hot from the outside and force Alabama into mistakes, the Tigers have a chance to pull the so-called "upset".

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