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Auburn completes season sweep of Alabama with 82-77 win

Feb. 4, 2017

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By Jeff Shearer
AuburnTigers.com

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - When it comes to the in-state rivalry, Auburn coach Bruce Pearl sounds a little like the SEC's It Just Means More commercial.

"There are some place where you win, they just matter more," Pearl said. "Even when I was at Tennessee, it mattered because of the rivalry, particularly in football. Coming to Auburn, it really mattered."

Auburn made 15 3-pointers and beat Alabama 82-77 Saturday at Coleman Coliseum, sweeping the season series for the first time since 2009.

Auburn shot 55.6 percent from the 3-point line, hitting 15 of 27 attempts.

The Tigers (15-8, 4-6) led by 14 with 2:10 to play before a 10-0 Alabama run cut the lead to four, 78-74, with 1:01 to play.

Mustapha Heron made four free throws to secure the victory.

"My focus was trying to get to the free-throw line tonight, and just knock my free throws down," said Heron, who made all six of his foul shots.

Ronnie Johnson scored 15 to lead five Tigers scored in double figures. Jared Harper and Danjel Purifoy each scored 14. Heron scored 13 and Bryce Brown added 12, on 4-of-5 3-pointers.

A pair of Purifoy 3-pointers helped Auburn maintain its lead into the second half.

"I just came out for this game on fire," said Purifoy, who grew up in Centreville, 35 miles southeast of Tuscaloosa. "I had that mentality the whole game to do what I had to do to get us this win. My point guards really found the open man, and we knocked down the shots tonight."

Auburn made seven consecutive 3's in the second half. Johnson, Brown, T.J Lang, Harper and Purifoy hit deep balls to give the Tigers a 69-54 lead with 7:08 to play.

It was Auburn's second most 3-pointers this season, the most in conference play. The Tigers made 21 3's against Coastal Carolina.

"Our kids made big shots," Pearl said. "We knew we had to knock down the 3-ball because of how big they are, so we went small at four for almost the whole game. It paid off. It paid dividends."

Auburn played without Horace Spencer, who did not make the trip after injuring his shoulder Tuesday against Tennessee.

The Tigers led 41-39 after a hot-shooting first half that saw the Tigers hit 7 of their 13 3-point attempts.

Auburn shot 55.2 percent in the half, the Tigers' highest percentage in SEC play this season.

Brown's 3-pointer gave Auburn its first lead at 13-12.

Johnson, who led Auburn with 12 in the half, followed with a pair of 3's and a layup to give Auburn a 5-point lead at the under 12 media timeout. T.J. Dunans' steal and layup put the Tigers up 23-16.

Brown hit Auburn's 6th 3-pointer of the half out of a time out with the shot clock expiring to give Auburn a 9-point lead.

Brown's third 3 of the half gave Auburn its largest lead at 36-25. Alabama answered with an 8-0 run to close the gap before intermission.

Anfernee McLemore grabbed six rebounds in the half, but the Tigers were outrebounded 24-10. McLemore finished with eight rebounds. The final rebounding margin favored Alabama 47-28, but the Tigers' 3-point barrage overcame the deficit on the boards.

Heron extended his freshman record of reaching double figures to 23 games.

Braxton Key and Corban Collins each scored 17 to lead Alabama (13-9, 6-4).

The Tigers return to Auburn Arena Tuesday to play Mississippi State at 8 p.m.

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:


 

 

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