No. 2 Alabama sweeps rival Auburn, wins SEC regular season championship

Mathey Gibson, Staff Reporter

Forever writ in crimson flame. 

On Wednesday, No. 2 Alabama defeated the Auburn Tigers 90-85 in a game that saw the Crimson Tide erase a walloping 17-point deficit in the second half.  

Leading the way for Alabama was senior point guard Jahvon Quinerly, who scored nine first-half points en route to a 24-point, six-assist, two-rebound performance. 

Quinerly, a 6-foot-1 guard from Hackensack, New Jersey, could not be contained by the Tiger defense, slashing into the paint at will, using his quickness and ability to finish around the basket to make a variety of layup packages.  

“I think he’s embellished the blue-collar winning attitude we’ve tried to establish here since year one,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “You know, he sat out as a redshirt because he was ineligible as a transfer, learned the system, he came in, first year he played was when we won the SEC. … I think he’s learned how to be a winner. He’s gotten better as a player, he’s gotten better as a leader, you could hear him in the huddles — I’m so proud of him as a leader.” 

Joining Quinerly with a big night in the backcourt was transfer guard Mark Sears, who scored 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting, drilling three of eight attempts from downtown. 

Sears, a 6-foot-1, Muscle Shoals, Alabama, native, is now 2-0 against the team in which he once admired as a kid, with two double-digit scoring outputs to boot.  

While he couldn’t get it going from the field, it was a productive day for Alabama forward Brandon Miller, who tallied 17 points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field, nailing 11 of 12 shots from the charity stripe.  

Miller, a projected lottery pick in the 2023 NBA draft, won the Crimson Tide’s “hard-hat award” after grabbing eight rebounds and posting three blocks.  

“We were down 10 in blue-collar points at halftime … we finished the game up 15.  We flipped the whole thing by 25 blue-collar points after halftime,” Oats said. “Brandon [Miller] led us with 23 to get the hard hat tonight.  Brandon finds ways to impact the game other than just scoring. He gets to the free-throw line, he made huge free throws down the stretch for us.” 

A counterpart to Miller in the frontcourt, freshman forward Noah Clowney shone during the second-half absence of Charles Bediako, who was ejected after a scuffle with the Auburn bench.  

Clowney, a 6-foot-10 forward from Roebuck, South Carolina, scored 10 second-half points of his own en route to a 17-point, eightrebound, two-block performance in 37 minutes.  

After a 75-75 end of regulation score, the ball found itself in the hands of two familiar faces down the stretch, with Miller and fellow freshman Jaden Bradley combining to score the final 10 points of the contest, sealing the game at the free-throw line with five makes at the stripe with under a minute to go.  

The victory marks the third SEC championship of the Nate Oats era at Alabama, with the fourth-year head coach’s program having swept the conference in 2020-2021. 

“We still have things we want to accomplish ahead of us,” Oats said. “But these guys have worked so hard and I’m proud of them.” 

As it stands, the second-ranked Crimson Tide now sit at 26-4 (16-1 SEC) — a mere two wins away from matching the school record of 28. After securing another banner to hang in the rafters of Coleman Coliseum, Oats’ squad will reset focus for a weekend matchup with Buzz Williams and the Texas A&M Aggies coming on Saturday. 

Tipoff for No. 2 Alabama and No. 24 Texas A&M is set for Saturday, March 4, at 11 a.m. CT on CBS.