Kira Lewis’ historic triple-double not enough in overtime loss at Auburn


CW / Hannah Saad

Jack Kennedy | @jwkennedy24, Staff Reporter

AUBURN — Dead. Buried. In the ground.

There are not any other words to describe the position Alabama was in to start the game, down 16-0 in the first four minutes of the game in the hostile environment of Auburn Arena.

The Crimson Tide did not get discouraged, though. Clawing back to trail by three at halftime and to tie the game at 44 shortly after, Alabama put itself in a position to potentially sweep Auburn for the season.

After not scoring for nearly the final four minutes of the game, junior guard John Petty Jr. made a 3-pointer with 14.9 seconds remaining to tie the game at 81 and send the game into overtime. At no point in the game did Alabama ever take the lead.

But the Crimson Tide could not come back from the 8-point overtime deficit, losing 95-91.

“We were right there, but we have to figure out how to win games,” coach Nate Oats said. “We need to figure out how to get stops when we need them… We are capable of beating anybody in the league when we play for 40 [minutes].”

Sophomore guard Kira Lewis Jr. became the second player in program history, and first since Roy Rogers in 1996, to record a triple-double. Lewis finished with 10 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds.

“I’m not really thinking about it right now because we lost the game,” Lewis said. “That doesn’t really matter when you lose.”

In its first matchup against Auburn this season on Jan. 16, Alabama had a tough time containing Auburn forward Austin Wiley on the glass. The second matchup was no different. Wiley finished with 18 points, 17 rebounds (eight offensive) and five blocks.

Overall, the Crimson Tide was out-rebounded 60-44 and allowed 20 offensive rebounds. The 20 offensive rebounds by Auburn turned into 24 second-chance points.

“That was a huge point of emphasis coming into this game,” Oats said. “If Wiley is going to come out and destroy us on the offensive boards, it was going to be hard to win the game.”

Oats had said coming into the season that he wanted the Crimson Tide to shoot a large number of threes.

But his wish came a little too true against Auburn. Alabama attempted an SEC-record 59 3-pointers and made an SEC-record 22. It resulted in a 37% shooting performance from beyond the arc, which is more than 2% better than its season average.

“That’s probably a few too many, to be honest,” Oats said. “… They were playing zone. At times, we didn’t do a great job of attacking it.”

Freshman guard Jaden Shackelford headed the 3-point barrage by making seven 3-pointers while Petty made six. Shackelford led all scorers with 28 points and Petty was the second-highest scorer with 20.

During a press conference on Tuesday prior to the Auburn game, Oats had said he hoped that junior forward Herbert Jones could be available for the Texas A&M game on Feb. 22. But Jones was dressed out for the Crimson Tide, unlike he had been for the games since he underwent surgery on a broken wrist on Feb. 4.

But Jones checked into the game early in the first half and ended up playing seven minutes. The Crimson Tide outscored Auburn by 13 points while Jones was on the floor.

“It was more to get some bullets in before we put him in against LSU,” Oats said. “… Hopefully on Saturday we can play him a lot more minutes than we did [tonight].”

The Crimson Tide will search for its second Quadrant 1 win of the season against LSU on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum.

“We have to accumulate as many wins as possible and hope that [the committee] looks at the fact that Herb was out and how valuable he is to us,” Oats said.