Tuscaloosa, Ala.-- After disrupting the Alabama
offense with tough defense most of the night, the Auburn
men's basketball team didn't have an answer to a JaMychal Green
tip in of a Trevor Lacey
miss with 34 seconds to play as the Tide held on for a 55-49 win Wednesday night at Coleman Coliseum.
"You take a team like Alabama on their home court until the last four minutes, that's all you can ask for on the road," said Auburn coach Tony Barbee. "But you've got to be able to finish, and that's where I thought their senior, Green, came up big for them late, and he was the difference in the game for them, but that's what seniors are supposed to do."
The loss drops the Tigers' record to 14-15 overall and 4-11 in conference. Alabama is now 20-9 overall and 9-6 in the SEC.
"From start to finish we showed a lot of heart, a lot of fight, and we had our opportunities," Barbee said. "It's just disappointing that we could not finish. We had our chances. The guys came out and really competed, but that's what you're going to get in a game like this. It's just disappointing that we couldn't get over the hump here in the last four minutes of the game."
After being held scoreless in the first half, Kenny Gabriel scored 10 second-half points to lead the Tigers. Gabriel also led Auburn in rebounds with 11 to complete a double-double.
Noel Johnson, who got the start in place of injured Allen Payne, scored nine points on the night, going 3-6 from behind the arc.
"I just kept kept telling him if I see you hesitate on a shot and you're open, I'm taking you out," said Barbee. "You're on the floor to score and make buckets. I thought this was his most confident performance of the year."
Chris Denson shoots the ball on Wednesday night.
Frankie Sullivan and Chris Denson added nine points each for the Tigers as well.
Denson had been suspended for the previous game vs. Arkansas along with Varez Ward, a sophomore guard who remained suspended on Wednesday night.
The Tigers couldn't overcome a 19-point discrepancy in free throws, as Alabama made 24 of 32 attempts, while Auburn shot only 5-12 from the charity stripe.
The Auburn defense held Alabama to 31.1 percent from the field for the game while the Tigers shot 41.7 percent. Alabama out-rebounded the Tigers 39-31, with nine of the Tide's boards coming on the offensive end of the floor.
The Tigers took an early 10-4 lead on two threes from Johnson and a pair of buckets from Rob Chubb and Willy Kouassi.
Neither Sullivan nor Gabriel, the Tigers' two leading scorers, got on the scoreboard until there were 51 seconds left in the half when Sullivan made a layup.
After an Adrian Forbes bucket with 10:15 left in the first half, Alabama went on a 9-0 run until a Chris Denson bucket and free throw with 2:04 left in the half put the score at 23-17.
Auburn would add two more buckets to pull the Tigers within two at 23-21 at the half.
The Tigers shot 37.5 percent from the field in the first half, but couldn't find their range from beyond the arc, making two of their 12 attempts.
The Tigers' defense, which made six blocks in the first half, kept Alabama off balance on offense as the Tide shot only 29.6 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes. In its previous two games against Arkansas and Mississippi State, Alabama shot better than 50 percent from the field.
Alabama had a 6-1 advantage in offensive rebounds in the first half, which led to 10 second-chance points for the Tide.
The loss brings Barbee's record against Alabama to 0-4.
The Tigers return to action Saturday on Senior Day at 1 p.m. for the regular season finale against LSU at the Auburn Arena.
The Tigers drop a close one in the final minutes against the Tide in Tuscaloosa Wednesday night.
The Auburn men's basketball team falls in a close game at Alabama.
Kenny Gabriel goes for the block against Alabama.