Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

No. 16 Alabama basketball falls to No. 12 Auburn in festival of fouls

CW / Riley Thompson
Alabama guard Rylan Griffen (#3) pushes by an Auburn defender.

A sea of bright orange T-shirts jumping in the student section. The deafening chants of “War Eagle” from the over 9,000 fans in attendance. The repeated whistle of the referees as two bitter rivals hacked away at each other for 40 minutes. All described the Iron Bowl of Basketball in Auburn’s Neville Arena on Wednesday night. 

In Alabama men’s basketball’s 99-81 loss to the Auburn Tigers on Wednesday night, the Crimson Tide committed a season-high 33 personal fouls, leading to 40 made free throws for the Tigers, an Auburn basketball single-game record.  

Alabama had two players foul out, with four other players with four fouls by the end of the game.  

“We’ve got to be more disciplined,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said postgame. “Some of it is effort. The team that plays harder sometimes fouls less, because they’re in position. When you’re a step late and you’re not where you’re supposed to be, you end up fouling.”  

The Crimson Tide wasn’t alone in its foul trouble, however. The Tigers committed 28 fouls, leading to 28 made free throws for Alabama. Altogether, 85 free throws were attempted in the second round of the Iron Bowl of Basketball.  

While Alabama’s fouling would be instrumental in Auburn’s victory, it was far from the only area that the Crimson Tide struggled in. 

The Tigers won the battle in just about every category on the stat sheet, as Alabama looked very different from the team that has been atop the SEC for over two weeks. 

Most notably, the Crimson Tide gave up 40 points inside as Tigers forwards Jaylin Williams and Johni Broome danced and scored throughout the Auburn-blue paint all night. Together, the two combined for 50 of Auburn’s 99 points, while hitting only a combined two 3-pointers.  

“The inside game is not a factor in the NBA anymore, but it still is in college basketball,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said postgame.  

Broome, who entered Wednesday night’s contest with SEC Player of the Week honors, was the first player on the court during warmups by almost 20 minutes, seemingly determined to avenge his team’s loss in Tuscaloosa back in January.  

This vengeful spirit was shared by everyone wearing blue and orange, fueling a fire in the Tigers that the Crimson Tide couldn’t put out.  

Auburn’s bench also played a massive role, scoring 31 points compared with the 6 points scored by the Alabama bench.  

One bright spot for the Crimson Tide, as always, was the play of guard Mark Sears. He led Alabama with 25 points, nine rebounds and four assists.  

Even in a game in which he led his team in points, assists and rebounds, Sears didn’t escape the criticism of a disgruntled Oats. 

“Honestly, we need Mark to play better defense,” Oats said. “We’re not going to be able to win at the level we’re used to winning at around here if he’s not better for us on defense.”  

This loss for the Crimson Tide has made the race for the top of the SEC much more competitive, as there is now a four-way tie for first place in the conference — Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina.  

Alabama will look to bounce back from its lackluster performance on the Plains when it travels to Baton Rouge on Saturday to take on the LSU Tigers. The game will tip off at 11 a.m. CT and be broadcast on ESPN.  

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