Who: Alabama; 19-6 (14-2) vs. Auburn; 12-13 (6-10)
When: 6 pm CT, Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021.
Where: Coleman Coliseum; Tuscaloosa, AL.
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (play-by-play: Chris Stewart; analyst: Bryan Passink)
On January 9th, Alabama and Auburn met in Auburn Arena in a high scoring game that ended with a score of 94-90, favoring the Tide. Nate Oats’ squad played well overall, but were at a disadvantage going into this game. Auburn star PG Sharife Cooper had just been ruled eligible to play for the first time the night before and there was no way to watch any film or prepare for his potential impact. He dropped 26 points, but it ended up not being enough to pull off the upset at home. Now it gets even tougher for the Tigers. They have to go on the road to face the SEC Champions in Coleman Coliseum. The worst part about that is they may be without the one who almost helped them compete with the Tide last time, Sharife Cooper (ankle). If Cooper does not play, along with Justin Powell still being out, this could get out of hand quickly. The Tigers come in averaging 77.9 PPG and shooting 53.1% from inside the arc. Both of those are decent numbers, but a lot of that is because of Cooper. It gets worse when you look at Auburn defensively. They rank 326th in the country in opponents field goal attempts per game and 304th in made shots (according to TeamRankings). This does not bode well for a team that has to defend a Nate Oats system where you take and make a lot of efficient shots. Alabama comes into this game averaging 79.6 PPG, shooting a ton of 3’s and making a lot of them as well. They rank 3rd in the country in attempts and makes. The thing that will give Auburn fits the most in this matchup will be Alabama’s defense. The Tide is a much improved defensive team since the game at Auburn Arena where they gave up 90 points. Alabama ranks 14th in opponent effective FG% at 45.4%, 11th in opponent 3 pt. % at 28.7%, and 33rd in opponent overall shooting percentage. This should scare an Auburn team that may be without two of their star players. Even if Sharife Cooper walks out of that tunnel on Tuesday night, the Tigers will still have their hands full with this Alabama defense.
Auburn Players to Watch:
G Allen Flanigan (14.2 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 3 APG)
F Jaylin Williams (10.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.1 APG)
F JT Thor (9.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.8 APG)
G Jamal Johnson (9.2 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.9 APG)
G Devan Cambridge (9.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 0.7 APG)
Now that Alabama has clinched the outright SEC title, they will be able to play loose and focus on nothing but basketball now. Alabama’s defense usually shows up, but will the offense get back to the way it was playing in the last meeting against Auburn? The Tide may not score 94 points, but they will score enough to take care of business and the defense will play hard and hold this Auburn offense in the low 70’s.
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