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#11 Auburn vs Alabama Game Preview and Open Thread

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Auburn gets a chance to get even with Alabama this season tonight inside Auburn Arena!

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana State at Auburn Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Wednesday February 12th

Opponent: Alabama Crimson Tide

Location: Auburn Arena

Time: 6PM

Network: ESPN2, Auburn Radio Network

About a month ago, Auburn went into Tuscaloosa undefeated and ranked 4th in the country. They didn’t leave Tuscaloosa that way.

The Tigers suffered a humbling 83-64 loss to the Crimson Tide back on January 15th. Tonight, Auburn looks to avenge that loss on their home floor.

And this is the night you want to make sure you wear orange.

Since Auburn last faced Alabama....

The Tide have gone 4-3 with wins over Missouri, Vanderbilt, Kansas State and Georgia. They lost 3 in a row in the midst of that stretch though to LSU, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

One of the biggest differences in tonight’s game is Alabama will be without Herb Jones who fractured his wrist a couple weeks ago and is out indefinitely meaning Alabama’s frontcourt depth has taken an even bigger hit. Jones had 14 points and 12 rebounds in the game last month. The Tide have been playing just 7-8 deep since the injury to Jones. Freshmen forward Javian Davis (#0) has taken Herb’s spot in the starting lineup in the last 3 games and put up good numbers averaging 10.7 PPG and has made 14 of his last 17 shots over the past 4 games.

Kira Lewis Jr. comes into Auburn coming off a career night in Athens. He had 37 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds in the team’s 105-102 Overtime win against Georgia. Lewis had an outstanding performance earlier this year against Auburn, leading Alabama that night with 25 points. It will be interesting to see what defensive adjustments are made to try and slow down Lewis this evening.

John Petty has struggled mightily in his previous 2 visits to Auburn Arena but struggled at home against Auburn the first time around. Petty had just 7 points in the teams meeting in Tuscaloosa and until his 21 point game against Georgia, had failed to reach double figures in scoring over the past 3 games (all Alabama losses). Alabama will need a big game from Petty tonight.

Keys for Auburn

Beginning 2 weeks ago, Auburn was entering a tough 4 game stretch where many people thought 2-2 would be okay. With a win tonight, Auburn would finish their toughest 4 game stretch of the year so far with a 4-0 record. A win tonight would also match last season’s regular season win total of 22 wins.

Looking back at the first matchup, it was a rough night in Tuscaloosa for the Auburn backcourt. Samir Doughty and J’Von McCormick combined for 11 points in the game last month. In fact Doughty had more turnovers (7) than points (6). That can’t happen tonight and I would be shocked if it did. The 2 guys put Auburn on their back Saturday in the OT comeback win against LSU. McCormick, who hasn’t gotten his just due from some folks, has done a really good job this year in filling the shoes left by Jared Harper. Doughty has averaged 24 PPG over the last 3 games against Kentucky, Arkansas and LSU.

Danjel Purifoy missed the LSU game with the flu and it remains to be seen whether or not he will play tonight but Devan Cambridge filled in well for Danjel Saturday scoring 21 points, on 7 3-pointers. We have now seen Devan have 26 and 21 point games but went scoreless in the 4 games in between those 2 breakout games. Auburn needs a more consistent Cambridge coming down the stretch.

Prediction

This is an extremely important game for Auburn. It’s always important for Auburn to beat Alabama but after the way the first game went, that makes tonight even more important. Auburn as we all know plays much better at home but one of the things they have not done well this is start games fast. The last couple years against Alabama at home, this team has started fast, especially the game 2 years ago. In the last 3 years, Auburn has beaten Alabama by 20, 19, and 21 points at home. Hopefully for Auburn, that history will repeat itself this evening.

Auburn 81 Alabama 67