Alabama Uses Anfernee McLemore Preseason Comments to Fuel Upset Over Auburn
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Auburn basketball senior forward Anfernee McLemore said during SEC Media Day, back in October, that his favorite place to play in the conference, outside of Auburn Arena, was Coleman Coliseum.
"I love seeing the disappointment on their faces when we [Auburn] win," McLemore said.
Well, there was no displeasure on any Alabama supporter's face after the Crimson Tide's 83-64 defeat of Auburn on Wednesday night in front of its Coleman Coliseum faithful.
"You do not pay attention to it," Crimson Tide guard Kira Lewis Jr. said. "Personally, if you say something outside the court, you really have to show what you do on the 94 feet of the court."
On the court, Lewis was magnificent. The sophomore poured in 25 points, three assists, and three rebounds. He also had the highest plus/minus of any Crimson Tide player at plus 30. In the final five minutes of the game, he iced it for Alabama, scoring 11 of the team's last 20 points.
Crimson Tide forward Herb Jones said he used the preseason comments to fuel his second career double-double performance as he finished with 14 points and 12 boards.
"Of course we used it as motivation," Jones said. "You know, an opposing player saying our gym was his favorite place to play. We took it as motivation and just started working hard."
The victory over, the once undefeated, No. 4 ranked Auburn Tigers (15-1, 3-1) is head coach Nate Oats' first signature win during his short tenure in Tuscaloosa. He also becomes the first Crimson Tide coach since David Hobbs in 1993 to win his first game against the in-state rival.
Oats said after the game that the last thing his players saw, before walking out onto the court, was McLemore's comments on a screen inside the locker room. As for McLemore himself, he only scored six points on 2-of-9 shooting and seven rebounds in 19 minutes of action.
"I have a lot of respect for [Anfernee] McLemore," Oats said. "I like him as a player. He plays hard. I actually do not mind that he added a little spice to the rivalry. We made sure that quote was on the screen, the last thing our players saw before they went out.
"It was nice he gave us that."