THEM BARNERS MADE IT SNOW AND CHEATED THEIR WAY INTO A WIN, PAWWWWWWL. AUBURN 74, ALABAMA 55.
First of all, I have a confession. I didn't watch the game. I didn't participate in the game thread. Don't hate me. I kept up with it on Twitter, but I didn't even listen to Rod call it. Why? Because the last time I did that, Auburn beat Clemson. I was stuck on a plane with only Twitter, and you know what they say: It's only weird if it doesn't work. I always thought once the SEC win came -- the conference losing streak was up to 16 straight, dating back to the last home game against Alabama -- I would be able to wax on poetically about it. I am at a loss. I guess more than anything, I am so happy for our guys. They needed a win in the worst way, and they came out with guns blazing. I feel good, too, because my joy for a win greatly overshadows any negative feelings I have about the state of the program, and frankly, none of that matters right now. What matters is that Auburn beat Alabama. War Damn.
Auburn started the usual crew - Tahj Shamsid-Deen at point, Asauhn Dixon-Tatum at center, Allen Payne at forward, Chris Denson and K.T. Harrell at guard. Alabama countered with Trevor Releford running point, Carl Engstrom at center, Shannon Hale at forward, Algie Key and Rodney Cooper at guard. As for the officiating crew, no Lee Cassell to be found. Auburn must not have a great selection of hair gel readily available to him.
Auburn (9-9, 1-6 SEC) hit the floor running and never looked back. Denson jump shot. KT assist for a Denson layup. TSD free throws. One. Two. Three. Layup by Denson. Payne assist for a KT three. 12-0 run to open the game. Trevor Releford finally put 'Bama on the scoreboard with 14:43 remaining in the first half. Alabama (9-11, 3-4) got within five with 2:38 remaining in the first half but never got any closer. With 2 seconds left in the half, Payne hit a long jumper after a TSD steal to close out the first 20 minutes with an eight-point Auburn lead, 30-22. The Tigers were 11-of-29 from the floor (37.9 percent), a woeful 1-of-8 from the perimeter (12.5 percent), and 7-of-10 from the foul line (70.0 percent). 'Bama started cold, making only 8 of 26 from the floor (30.8 percent), missing all six attempts from downtown and hitting 6 -of-8 free throws (75.0 percent).
In the first half, the Tigers had six steals -- Payne with three, TSD with two and ADT with one. ADT racked up three blocks, followed by Matthew Atewe with two and even Dion Wade with one. Auburn had just 10 points in the paint, compared to 'Bama's 16. The Tigers made up for that with 13 points off turnovers; Bama managed only five.
Alabama came within five twice in the second half, at 18:35 with a layup from Key (31-26) and again at 18:00 after Engstrom went 2-0f-2 on from the foul line. After a Denson layup at 16:33, Auburn led by double digits and never looked back. Not even the return of Retin Obasohan could save 'Bama from the Tigers, who went on to win by 19. They poured it on, nailing 14-of-22 shots from the field (63.6 percent), two threes (2-of-12 for 16.7 percent), and 22-of-28 from the foul line (78.6 percent!!!!!). Alabama finally got some shots to fall, 11-of-27 to be exact (40.7 percent). The Tide made 3-of-10 from behind the arc (30.0 percent), and 8-of-12 from the free throw line (66.7 percent). Auburn won the battle in the paint, 20 points to Alabama's 16.
The final score does little to tell the whole story. Denson and Harrell combined for 55 points, the same amount scored by 'Bama in 40 minutes. Denson finished the night with a career-high 32; Harrell poured in 23 and added a game-high 11 rebounds. For all of Auburn's recent struggles at the free throw line, Auburn, the Tigers were solid Thursday night. Denson, who had struggled mightily, knocked down 11-of-14. Nine offensive rebounds, 28 defensive rebounds for the Tigers. Only four points from the bench still leaves a lot of room for improvement, but that can be a conversation for another day.
A conference win, a win at home and a win over 'Bama. Doesn't get any better than that. Enjoy it.