Tide holds on at home

Freshman guard Levi Randolph defends against Auburn. The Crimson Tide defeated the Tigers 55-49 in their last home game this season. / CW | Shannon Auvil

On Feb. 23, 2011, then-junior forward JaMychal Green made a game-winning tip-in against the Auburn Tigers with 0.3 seconds left to send Coleman Coliseum into a victorious frenzy.

371 days later, with the stakes amplified on his senior day as the only senior on the team, Green again came through in the clutch at home against Auburn (14-15, 4-11 SEC), this time getting a tip-in to fall with 34 seconds left to give the Crimson Tide (20-9, 9-6 SEC) a 51-47 lead that permanently put the game away, leading to the 55-49 final score Wednesday.

“In the second half, we were able to grind it out,” head coach Anthony Grant said. “We got ourselves to the free-throw line, and guys did a great job of converting. At the end of the game, we had guys step up to make the plays you have to make to win games like this.”

One of those late playmakers was Green, who scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, as well as six of his 10 rebounds. The 15-point, 10-rebound performance was Green’s fifth double-double of the season.

“That’s what seniors are supposed to do,” Auburn head coach Tony Barbee said. “Seniors are supposed to finish the game. You’re not supposed to depend on freshmen or underclassmen. Your seniors, your best players, are supposed to finish games for your team.”

Green’s senior day did not come without some adversity, however, as he turned in a 1-for-6 shooting performance in the first half, without a single free throw attempt.

“I wasn’t really bummed out,” Green said. “I just knew there were 20 minutes left in the game, and I had to get refocused and come out with a lot of energy.”

The team shared in Green’s offensive suffering, compiling a 29.6 first-half shooting percentage. Alabama scored eight points in the paint compared to Auburn’s 12.

“Like I told the guys after the game, it wasn’t pretty,” Grant said. “It wasn’t one of our best performances. I think Auburn had a lot to do with that.”

Auburn forced Alabama’s first-half struggles and put together a counterstrike by a late first-half run. The Tigers cut a nine-point deficit with just over two minutes left to a two-point game at halftime.

“One thing we always talk about is closing halves the right way and closing games the right way,” Grant said. “We took a step back there to close the half.”

Alabama fared better in the second half, doing so from the free-throw line. Alabama made a season-high 24 free throws against Auburn, 19 of which were in the second half.

“They were huge, we needed every one of them,” Grant said. “Our guys did a great job of stepping up to the line and knocking them down when we needed them. When you go 19-of-25 in the second half, that’s the difference in the game.”

When the final buzzer sounded, there was no doubt who was the motivation behind the hard-fought win: Green.

“We talked about that before the game,” Grant said. “At the end of the day, all of our guys were playing to get [Green] the win. We knew we wanted to send him out the right way.”