Against a team that many said could beat anyone, Auburn put up their best offensive outing in front of a raucous Jungle crowd, beating Alabama 100-81 to improve to 21-1 on the year and win their 18th straight game.
The Tigers ran out several big spurts to take leads of nearly 20 points multiple times in this game, and nearly everyone got into the action scoring and playing hard defense on the other end. Alabama threatened once early in the second half, but after cutting the Tigers’ lead to two points, they were left in the dust and sent out on a rail as Auburn sweeps the season series.
Bruce Pearl did the Crane Kick and then grabbed a broom after Auburn's 100-81 win over Alabama. pic.twitter.com/OeGLGRT8cy— Patrick Greenfield (@PCGreenfield) February 2, 2022
All of Auburn’s stars showed up tonight, with Wendell Green leading the way in points off the bench with 23, and four of the Tigers’ starters hitting double figures as well. Jabari Smith finished with 17 points on 5-10 shooting, but Walker Kessler was the star on both ends of the court with 14 points, 12 rebounds, 8 blocks, and 4 steals.
Both teams came into the game a little juiced up, and both sides began the night 1-6 from the floor. Auburn, however, made early hay from the foul line before an alley-oop from K.D. Johnson to Devan Cambridge lit the crowd. A layup by Wendell Green at the 12:29 mark put Auburn on top 16-14, and the Tigers never trailed again. Just before the under-8 timeout, Allen Flanigan hit back-to-back shots to give Auburn a 27-19 lead, and the Tigers would explode from their as they went into the half. Green continued to work off the bench, and he turned out to go blow for blow with Jaden Shackelford and Jahvon Quinerly.
After Green’s three-point play, Devan Cambridge buried a left win three, and Dylan Cardwell stuffed an alley-oop to put Auburn on top 41-26. Jabari Smith followed that with his first three of the night and the crowd roared into a timeout. Alabama would make up some ground with three straight threes, but Auburn still held a comfortable lead of 51-37 at halftime after Allen Flanigan’s two made free throws with :01 left in the period.
Alabama came out on a mission to start the second half. Auburn committed three fouls in the opening minute to help stifle any momentum, and the Tide ran out a 12-2 burst to pull within a 53-49 game. Quinerly made his first four buckets of the half, and Shackelford added a pair of threes early on as well. Bama got as close as 57-55, but a huge second-chance score by Jaylin Williams stemmed the bleeding, and Auburn strung together scores on their next three possessions to rebuild a double-digit lead at 67-57.
Auburn went up 74-58 on a jumper from Wendell Green with 9:37 to play, and four minutes later the lead had stayed exactly the same as Kessler’s layup made the score 84-68 with 5:07 left. When K.D. Johnson’s transition three went through the net to push Auburn ahead 90-72, the fans began to really taste the victory. Bruce Pearl emptied the bench after Jabari Smith’s final jumper to give Auburn a 94-75 lead, and Preston Cook added a layup to put the Tigers on top 97-75 in the final minute. Finally, Carter Sobrera scooted by Quinerly and drew a foul to put the Tigers at 99 points, and he converted the free throw to give Auburn an even 100 points and a 100-81 victory.
With the win, Auburn has won 18 straight games, now sits at 9-0 in the SEC as we’re halfway through conference play, and holds a 21-1 overall record.
- Bama had beaten three of last year’s Final Four teams, and Auburn toyed with them tonight. They had absolutely no answer for anything that Auburn did inside, and the Tigers withstood their one punch and kept on ticking. If what we saw tonight is any indication for the rest of the season, Auburn should hold serve at home and finish with a perfect record inside Auburn Arena.
- Bruce Pearl has figured out how to get dudes galore, and this was the game that they all put it together at the same time. Auburn posted its best offensive output of the year with 100 points, and it took five double-digit scorers to do it. On a night when everyone is on, Auburn is impossible to beat.
- Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler definitely made themselves a ton of money tonight. With the NBA scouts in attendance, Kessler ate the interior up on defense, while Jabari showed off the shooting touch and the defensive effort that are necessary at the next level.
- What a bounceback game from Wendell, who’s now outplayed the Bama guards in both meetings.
- JD Davison had 0 points tonight after his emotional lift in the game in Tuscaloosa. Bama also only got real output from Shackelford/Quinerly, and that’s just because they both shot well above their season averages from the floor. Without their effort, we’re looking at a late 90’s type of blowout.
- Auburn still holds a two-game lead (plus tiebreaker over Kentucky) in the conference standings, with Georgia on Saturday. Dare I say we’re pulling for Alabama to beat Kentucky and widen the gap even more? At this point, the toughest games look to be at Arkansas a week from tonight, at Tennessee at the end of February, and at Mississippi State right after that.
For now, Auburn gets to take on Georgia this Saturday in Athena. Tip-off will come at 12 pm CST from Stegeman Coliseum.