Feb. 29, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala.---- Kenny Gabriel had 10 points and 11 rebounds while a trio of Tigers had nine points as short-handed Auburn lost a heartbreaker again at Alabama 55-49 in Coleman Coliseum on Wednesday. Frankie Sullivan, Noel Johnson and Chris Denson each had nine for the Tigers.
JaMychal Green's tip-in after a big Auburn defensive stand gave Alabama a 51-47 lead with 37 seconds left. Gabriel then missed a good look 3-pointer from the top of the key after an Auburn time out, and the Tide sealed it with free throws from there. Green finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Tide, which defeated Auburn 51-49 in Tuscaloosa last season.
"I thought we guarded fairly well," said Auburn head coach Tony Barbee. "We just couldn't score. That has kind of been the story for this year."
Alabama outshot Auburn from the foul line 24-of-32 to 5-of-12. In the second half alone, Gabriel had 10 points and six rebounds while Green had 13 points and six boards, making 7-of-10 foul shots.
Auburn (14-15, 4-11) jumped out to a 10-4 lead on a pair of 3-pointers from Noel Johnson. Alabama (20-9, 9-6), which answered with an 19-4 run, took its first lead of the game at 15-14 on a pair of free throws by Nick Jacobs at 8:16 followed by Rodney Cooper's 3-pointer and a Jacobs foul shot to extend it to 23-14 with 3:13 left in the first.
Denson's conventional 3-point play ended Auburn's 8:14 scoreless drought to bring the Tigers to within 23-17. A 5-0 run by Denson closed it to within 23-19 with 1:41 to go. Sullivan's driving layup made it 23-21 and then Gabriel missed a dunk just before the buzzer that would have tied it. The Tigers closed the half on a 7-0 run in the last two minutes after going over eight minutes without a point.
Gabriel's bank shot to open the second half tied it at 23 and made it nine straight points for the Tigers. The Tigers then used a 9-1 run to take a 34-31 lead on a Denson floater with 14:16 to play. Willy Kouassi tied it at 43 on a stickback with six minutes left. The Tide then scored four-straight points and held the Tigers scoreless until a pair of Gabriel free throws with 1:53 to go. However, Auburn only trailed 47-45 after that.
Auburn's defense was tremendous as the Tigers held the Crimson Tide to only 31.1 percent shooting from the floor, 27.3 percent from 3-point range and had seven blocks. The Tigers shot 41.7 percent from the floor and 4-of-21 from behind the arc. Alabama outrebounded Auburn 39-31.
The Tigers played without five scholarship players, including Allen Payne, who had surgery on his left knee on Tuesday. Johnson played a season-high 27 minutes and Kouassi, who had four points, five rebounds and three blocks, played 17 minutes.
Trevor Lacey added 10 points for Alabama while going 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
Auburn returns home for its regular season finale against LSU on Saturday at 1 pm Central on Senior Day. The game will be televised by CBS.