The very first possession was a microcosm of the game. We got an "And one," wide open 3 point attempt, two offense rebounds, and 3 total free throws and came away with only 3 points. We didn't take advantage of our opportunities when we were playing well, and then we had no answer when auburn found their groove late in the game.
Alabama actually played very well in the first half. We controlled the tempo and played to our identity. The defense was great; it took auburn nearly 5 minutes to score from the field, and we dominated the boards on both ends. Unfortunately, we couldn't make open shots and the score was tied at 30 going into halftime.
The second half pace was more to auburn's liking. They started pressing and trapping us which led to turnovers and sped the game up. When our bigs got in foul trouble they couldn't defend Wiley. With Wiley pushing us around in the paint, it opened up the perimeter for Heron to start raining 3s. As a result, we gave up 54 points in the second half and got run out of the gym in the final 8 minutes.
I do not understand Coach Johnson's obsession with starting Corban at the 2. I understand the argument that he earned another shot at it with his game in Baton Rouge, but he hasn't made a shot since. I thought after his awful showing in the Mizzou game, we would go back to starting AJ at the point and Dazon at the 2, which is a lineup that's worked fairly well for us. Dazon is simply too careless with the basketball right now to be running point. AJ dribbles too much, but at least he generally doesn't turn the ball over. Corban provides good leadership, but I prefer him coming in off the bench.
Braxton scored 18 points but he had so many turnovers and so many air balls that I don't know how much he really helped us. I felt like he was trying to do too much at times. Riley had a solid game with 10 points but he got burned on defense a few times late. I thought Bola played very well. He ended with 7 points and 11 rebounds, and he made several good hustle plays coming up with loose balls and saves.
I don't often say nice things about those folks, but kudos to Bruce Pearl and the auburn faithful for raising money and awareness for cancer research with the "AUT Live" shirts. While it's a great idea, I do think they need to tweak their play on words. Obviously "Out live" made more sense for Pearl at UT...Before the announcers explained the background I assumed it was some sort of charity dealing with autism. "Aut" and "out" aren't really the same word.
Speaking of the announcers, ESPN's coverage was horrible. On multiple occasions a foul was called and the announcers failed to mention who it was on, much less how many fouls that player committed. I had to look up the foul numbers on my CBS Sports app. At one point they even said, "There's a whistle from the ref, we'll be back after the break!" No idea what the whistle was for. Note to ESPN, if You aren't going to inform us of the official's call, at least have the reporting official within the camera frame so that we can see for ourselves.
Up next, we go to Athens, GA to take on the Georgia Bulldogs at 8pm Central time Wednesday night. Georgia is currently number 42 in the RPI, so if the team can bounce back this game provides a great opportunity. It will be televised on ESPNU.