Last night was fun, wasn’t it? Auburn had about two minutes of trouble as Alabama built a 7-1 lead before the Tigers raced out to a double-digit advantage that never wavered. It was another home blowout of Alabama, which has become all too common at Auburn Arena.
2019 - Auburn 84, Alabama 63
2018 - Auburn 90, Alabama 71
2017 - Auburn 84, Alabama 64
The last three seasons, Auburn’s averaged a 20-point home victory over the Tide. Bruce Pearl has done what some other SEC coaches have done on the football side of things, and made sure that we’re going to have a good time beating our rivals. He identified that we need to win the state before we win the SEC and beyond. Since he came to Auburn, Bruce Pearl is 5-4 against the Tide, with four of those wins coming at home, but the way that Auburn’s won is paramount. It’s been relatively easy at times. Let’s look back to last night:
Let’s take a different look at some of those plays. Auburn was flat-out on fire last night...
From Harper to Brown = pic.twitter.com/oVYt7Wzmft— Sara Palczewski (@SaraPalczewski) February 3, 2019
That’s the alley oop to Bryce Brown early that made it a 20-point lead for Auburn late in the first half, and here’s Horace Spencer showing off the handles.
And oh my goodness, Jared Harper. We’ve seen him shoot ridiculously-long threes during his entire career, but there’s got to be a new term for what he did early on last night as Auburn started to pull away.
Limitless Range & Deep Range Deadeye activated‼️ https://t.co/TmFRjdm8yn— JARED HARPER ™ (@Therealvinoo) February 3, 2019
You can see from the highlights that the crowd was outstanding, with nearly everyone on the lower bowl wearing the orange shirts for the AUtlive Cancer campaign. The crowd even got some props from the opponents.
Alabama guard John Petty on Auburn crowd tonight: "They probably have some of the best fans in the NCAA."— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) February 3, 2019
This coming from the team that was practicing with special crowd noise to try and handle the environment from last night.
And hey, there is one positive from the Tide side last night...
I’ll give Alabama credit for this, so far it’s not the worst performance one of their programs has had in the past month.— Josh Black (@JoshuaBBlack) February 3, 2019
Anyway, this was the Auburn team that we expected to see this season. High-flying, sharp-shooting, and faster than hell. The Tigers ran Alabama out of the gym by way of turnovers, points in transition, and that home court advantage that just shakes the life out of the opponents. Alabama had no answer.
First of all, Auburn’s had a problem over the past couple of weeks with somebody on the other side going nuts. Terence Davis, Tyler Herro, Quinndary Weatherspoon, Chris Silva. You remember what those guys did. Last night, some of the College and Mag staff was worried about defending Donta Hall, who’s been having a fantastic year. His line? 8 points, 10 rebounds... and he made all of his shots! Auburn just did a great job of denying him the ball and preventing him from coming in to finish off misses on the offensive end. He had just a pair of offensive rebounds.
And speaking of rebounding, Alabama was the best rebounding team in the SEC coming into the game. Auburn outplayed them on the glass with a 31-29 rebounding edge. The Alabama starters only combined for 29 points last night. Bryce Brown had 23 points by himself. It helps when Auburn shoots 52% from the floor, and hits 13-22 threes.
Something else that happened last night is that we saw the lineup really continuing to mesh. Anfernee McLemore played well again, Horace Spencer did his Horace Spencer thing, and we saw maybe the best game from Danjel Purifoy. I feel like each time out he’s gotten better, and last night he was 2-3 from the floor, while grabbing 4 rebounds and a steal. He was effective defensively, and didn’t look lost or gawky out there. I’m a little worried about what happens when we get Austin Wiley back and have to reinsert him into the lineup, which will force the team to learn how to play with a true center again, but that’s a good problem to have.
Now we turn our attention to Florida. The Gators are one of six teams tied with Auburn at 4-4 in the SEC, but this is a must-win for the Tigers. Auburn hasn’t beaten Florida in the regular season since 1999, and to get back above .500 in the conference, it’ll have to happen on Tuesday night. Florida’s honestly not too different from Auburn in SEC play, as they’ve had a couple of close losses, but Auburn should be favored and should win this game. Florida’s got to force themselves from looking ahead to next Saturday as well, as they’re going to take on #1 Tennessee in Knoxville.
It was a good win last night, but it’s time to keep moving forward with the progression of this team. War Eagle!