The short-handed Tide gave it a great effort, but dropped to 13-11 (5-6) with an overtime loss on the road at auburn. There are no moral victories, but there are a lot of positives to take from this game.
We didn't score in the first four minutes of the game while auburn jumped out to a 16-0 lead. We probably should have called a timeout when it got to 8-0 or 10-0, but the team responded with a 7-0 run after the first media timeout to get back into the game and quiet the crowd. I thought our guys showed a lot of poise in a very difficult environment all night. Every time it looked like auburn might run away with the game, we would knock down a few 3s and claw back into it.
We shot an SEC record 59 threes, and made a respectable 22 of them. The barn's interior defense was very good, but I'm surprised Pearl stayed in the zone as much as he did allowing us wide open looks from the perimeter. We even ran some ourselves this game, which I thought was the right call, but we just couldn't protect the rim or do anything with Austin Wiley in the paint defensively.
We only trailed by 3 at the half, but auburn stretched the lead back to 11 about midway through the second half. Once again, our guys battled back, and auburn missed some late free throws allowing JP to make a 3 to tie the game with 14 seconds left. Herb came up with a big defensive stop to force the game into overtime, but our guys were out of gas by that point, and after missing the first 4 threes in OT, auburn had an 8 point lead that was too much to overcome.
Defensively we struggled to keep them out of the paint. They killed us on the dribble drive, getting to the free throw line, and with Wiley in the post, where he also dominated the glass. We were out-rebounded 60-44, Wiley had 18 points and 17 rebounds.
Herb showed a lot of heart in coming back early from wrist surgery despite still having a cast on his arm. Obviously he was very limited offensively, but he gave us 7 minutes of great defense, including 3 rebounds and an awesome blocked shot. Shack had a great game with 28 points and 8 rebounds. JP had 20, including 6 of 11 from 3-point range. Kira had the team's first triple-double since 1996(!) going for 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 13 assists with only one turnover! We only had 8 turnovers as a team, despite auburn pressing a good bit of the game. Beetle had 11 points and 6 rebounds, and played solid defense, but he's still making some bad decisions by dribbling into traffic. Jaylen stepped up big time with 11 points in 15 minutes. He's developing nicely with the increased playing time in Herb's absence and seems to be playing with more confidence. Alex had a rough night, only scoring 9 points in 30 minutes and shooting 2 for 10 from 3-point range. I think unsuccessfully trying to defend Wiley took a lot out of him.
Up next, we're still dealing with SEC leading Tigers as LSU will bring a strong ass team to Tuscaloosa Saturday for a 3 pm tip-off. If we can somehow get a win, we will be very much back into the NCAA tournament discussion, so let's pack the house and give this team the support they deserve! If you can't make it Coleman, the game will be televised on ESPN2.