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Auburn vs. Alabama Game Preview and Open Thread

Auburn welcomes their in-state rivals to Auburn Arena tonight!

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday February 2nd

Opponent: Alabama Crimson Tide

Location: Auburn Arena

Time: 7PM

Network: ESPN2, Auburn Radio Network

Anytime we get Auburn and Alabama to face off no matter the sport, it’s a big game. Tonight is no exception. Auburn will look to build off of their win over Missouri and get back to .500 in SEC play. Alabama will look for their second straight win after knocking off Mississippi State Tuesday night in Tuscaloosa. It’s also a big night for Auburn Basketball for a much more important reason...

Tonight is Auburn Basketball’s annual AUTLIVE game to fight against cancer. There’s always been an extra boost of energy in Auburn Arena in these games over the past couple of years and tonight will be no different. So buy an AUTLIVE shirt and support patients in their fight against cancer.

Get to Know Alabama...

The Crimson Tide come to Auburn with a 13-7 record, 4-3 in the SEC. They average 75.9 points a game while giving up 71.8 points a game. Alabama has some nice wins on their resume against Kentucky, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. They, like Auburn, also have wins over Arizona and Murray State. In addition, Alabama has some pretty bad losses, their two worst coming against Northeastern and at home against Texas A&M.

Across the board, Alabama is taller than Auburn at most positions but the player Auburn fans should be worried about most is senior forward (#0) Donta Hall. He is averaging 11.7 points and 8.9 rebounds a game this season. In SEC play, he’s had 4 double-doubles, scored in double figures in 6 of Alabama’s 7 games and secured at least 6 rebounds in each SEC game. He’s coming off a 19 point, 7 rebound performance against Mississippi State on Tuesday. Hall has a favorable matchup in the paint and Alabama would be wise to get the ball in the paint and hope that Hall has a big game.

Alabama is once again led in scoring by a freshman point guard. Kira Lewis Jr. (#2) is averaging 13.7 points a game and shoots 36.5% from 3-point range. Lewis joined this Alabama team late after reclassifying to play this year and has a huge asset for Alabama. He’s done a good job following in Collin Sexton’s footsteps this season.

Off the bench, the biggest wild card in this game is how sophomore guard (#23) John Petty plays. He’s second on the team averaging 11.8 points a game. In the regular season matchups last year against Auburn, Petty scored 27 points on 8-13 3-point shooting in the game played in Tuscaloosa. But his trip to Auburn Arena last year was a nightmare as he scored just 3 points on 1-9 shooting, all from 3-point range (that 1 came in the last 30 seconds of the game). Petty scored 30 points 2 weeks ago when Alabama nearly knocked off Tennessee but just 2 points in their last road game against Baylor.

Junior guard (#34) Tevin Mack is 4th on the team averaging 8.7 points game. The transfer from Texas was a big part of why Alabama knocked off Kentucky earlier this season scoring 22 points on 6-8 3-point shooting. Two more guys to know about are junior guard (#12) Dazon Ingram averaging 7.5 points a game and sharpshooter guard (#1) Riley Norris averaging 6.8 points a game along with being a 40% 3-point shooter.

What to Look for from Auburn...

Auburn didn’t look great in the first 20 minutes against Missouri but responded in the second half for their best half total of the season, scoring 58 against Mizzou, which finally eclipsed Auburn Football’s 56 points in the first half of the Music City Bowl against Purdue. They also posted the largest margin of victory in an SEC game at Auburn Arena on Wednesday of 34 points. One of the best parts of the game was each of Auburn’s 9 rotation players scored at least 6 points in that game.

Bryce Brown actually scored his least amount of points in league play at 14 Wednesday night but made a couple 3s at the beginning of the 2nd half that sent Auburn on the run that put the game away early in the second half. All of his shots Wednesday were from 3-point range so hopefully we’ll see Bryce be more aggressive driving the ball into the paint when the 3-pointer isn’t there.

On Friday, Bruce Pearl told the media that Austin Wiley was doubtful for the Tigers tonight but didn’t completely rule him out. So you’re telling me there’s a chance...

If he’s unable to go, it will be disappointing from the sense that I know how much this game means to Austin. Ultimately, Auburn needs him healthy in the long-term and he needs to be at or very near 100% before he returns to the floor. A good sign in his recovery was seeing him on the sidelines Wednesday not in a walking boot, so perhaps a return is close.

Chuma Okeke was incredible on Wednesday night against Missouri, posting his first double-double since the Washington game with 14 points and a season high 12 rebounds. Perhaps we’re starting to see the Okeke we all expected in the preseason as he’s been in double figures in 5 consecutive games. He’s now the team’s leading rebounder at 6.3 of those a game. Pearl was quoted saying this about Okeke post-Missouri.

On behalf of all the other members of this website, we all want to see Chuma inflict more pain on his opponents on a consistent basis.

Wednesday also showed some signs of promise from Danjel Purifoy. He scored 8 points (2-3 3-point shooting) in 11 minutes, was aggressive on defense, and looked to be much more comfortable in the Auburn rotation. Efforts like Purifoy showed Wednesday are much welcome for Auburn and if Auburn can get similar contributions from him down the road, it makes the Tigers an even better team.

Score Prediction

Much has been made about how despite Auburn winning the SEC Regular Season last year, Alabama took 2 out of 3 against the Tigers last year. That has resonated in both Auburn and Alabama fans minds over the past year. This game’s in Auburn and you know the Jungle and Auburn Arena will (BETTER) be rocking! This game has been extremely fun in Auburn the last 2 seasons with Auburn winning by 20 in 2017 and by 19 last season. Alabama has gotten better over the course of the year and have been in close games it seems like consistently throughout the season. However, I just have a hard time seeing Auburn losing this game in front of our home crowd.

Auburn 84 Alabama 75