Close call at Coleman

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Laura Owens

Keeping its home record perfect was not easy for the Alabama Crimson Tide (19-8, 11-2) Wednesday night. Despite being behind almost the entire game, Alabama managed to come from behind and beat Auburn 51-49, despite only hitting 11 shots from the field.

The winning field goal came with three seconds left as junior JaMychal Green tipped in a basket for the two-point advantage. With the tip-in, Alabama is now 15-0 at home.

“I saw [Tony Mitchell] was off balance when he was going up for the layup, so I just tried to follow the shot up for him, and God put me in the right position,” Green said.

The first time Alabama led was thanks to a free throw from Green that gave the Tide a 45-43 advantage with three minutes left in the second half. The lead was short-lived, as Auburn immediately answered it with a field goal. Over the last three minutes, the score was tied four times and the lead changed three more times.

“We found ways to chip away [at Auburn’s lead] and just got it down to 10,” head coach Anthony Grant said. “I think once we got it down to five, the energy really kicked in, the crowd was able to get back into it and I think carried us through it,”

In a first half unlike any other that Alabama has played, the Tide dug itself into a hole early. In the first 20 minutes of play, the team was only 5-22 from the field, shooting 23 percent. Alabama’s main source of scoring came from free throws. Although shooting 13-of-14 at the line, the Tide’s offense was not able to keep up with Auburn.

The Tigers piled on team fouls early in the game so that Alabama was in the shooting bonus halfway through the first half. With three minutes left in the half, Alabama trailed 31-16, however after a 9-0 run, the Tide closed it to a 31-25 deficit at halftime. Auburn’s 15-point lead was the biggest deficit Alabama has faced in an SEC game this season and third biggest it has faced this season.

One of the biggest differences in Auburn and Alabama’s first-half play was points off turnovers. Though Auburn had 11 turnovers to Alabama’s 12, the Tigers converted the Tide’s mistakes into 14 points, while the Tide only got 8 points off Auburn turnovers.

The second half wasn’t too much better for the Tide in shooting. Adding 14 more free throws along with only six field goals, proved to be just enough to take the lead from Auburn.

“I’m looking at the stats sheet and I’m trying to figure it out, because if you look at the numbers for us, it equates to a loss,” Grant said. “I glanced at the stats, and I think they went for a substantial amount of time where they didn’t score, and that’s probably what saved us in the second half.”

For the game, the Tide went 11-of-24 from the field, shooting only 26 percent; however, the team went 27-for-40 in free throws. Auburn made 43 percent of its field goals, but with four of Auburn’s main players fouling out, the Tigers were in both foul trouble and scoring trouble. Auburn only scored 8 points in the remaining 12 minutes of the second half to match Alabama’s 22.

Auburn head coach Tony Barbee blamed himself for the team’s loss, saying he hasn’t taught his team how to win.

“I told my guys there’s a big difference between playing hard and fouling,” Barbee said. “There’s a big difference between those two things. They were all fouls. We put them to the foul line way too much when they were struggling to score.”

Next up for the Tide is a road game in Oxford, Miss. against Ole Miss, where Alabama will look to sweep another series in the SEC West. Tipoff is Saturday at 3 p.m.