Shall we dance?
WE ARE FINALLY GOING BACK TO THE NCAA TOURNAMENT!
Collin Sexton took over the second half, finished with 31 points, and led the Tide to a comeback route of the top seeded auburn tigers. The win moves the Tide 19-14 on the season, advances them to the semi-finals of the SEC tournament against the Kentucky-Georgia winner, and in all likelihood clinches at least an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament.
Things looked bleak early on. We trotted out yet another starting lineup, this time going with Collin, Dazon, Herb, Hall, and Smith. Why we keep insisting on starting 2 big men against their lineup I will never know.
The first half looked a lot like some of our recent poor performances. We turned the ball over, missed free throws, and gave up way too many second chance opportunities. auburn predictably made a fair number of 3s, and they built a double digit lead. We would make a run to cut it to 5, and they would stretch it back out to 10. It felt like we were just hanging on by a thread, trying not to get blown out. We went into the locker room trailing 41-31.
With our backs to the wall, the team came out played arguably their best half of basketball of the season. It was similar to second half performance in Gainesville. Defensively, we slowed them down, made them work, and actually dominated the boards. Then, Collin Sexton went off! I hope all the morons who said "we would be better off without him" will shut up now. He did everything well. He made SIX from 3 point range! He got to the line and made his free throws. He played lock down defense. He played 35 minutes! (Thank You Avery! Finally!)
auburn did not score a basket for the first 10+ minutes of the second half. We led by as many as 22, so it was a 32 point swing in the second half. Besides Collin's contributions, Dazon Ingram also had a great game with 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. Donta had a solid performance with 11 points and 6 boards. Galin seems to be coming on in his new starting role late in the season, he ended up with 8 points and 6 rebounds. Braxton was still a little tenative offensively, but he managed to score 9 and get 10 boards. Herb was a big part in slowing down their perimeter game. We played much of the game with Herb and Key in foul trouble. Even Collin had 2 fouls in the first half. The officials called it tight but I thought they were consistent and did a fairly good job.
Bruce Pearl bumped into Lou Deneen and got into a heated exchange with him after the game. Security had to escort Bruce off the court. Bruce Pearl may be a good coach, but he is pure trash.
Dan picked up a couple of fouls in his minute of play before having to leave the game with a knee injury. Alex also spent some time in the locker room, and Donta left the game after taking a hard fall and hitting his head on the floor. Let's hope we can get everyone healthy and ready to go tomorrow.
Since we beat Texas A&M yesterday, I decided to replicate my routine. I went to the same place, and the crowd was overwhelmingly supportive of Alabama. Of course, I was sitting next to the only 2 auburn fans in the place, but they were actually nice and reasonable.
Up next, we will play the winner of Kentucky-Georgia on ESPN tomorrow at noon. As of this writing, it looks like it will be Kentucky, they lead 47-33 with 12 minutes remaining. I'm hitting the road for St. Louis in the next hour or so, if any of the blog readers want to meet up and maybe go in together on tickets, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.