Record 3s, Triple-Double Not Enough In Tough 95-91 OT Loss at No. 11 Auburn
AUBURN, Ala. — After falling down by 16 points just four minutes into the game, it looked like the University of Alabama men's basketball team was going to leave Auburn Arena with a lopsided loss again.
Instead, the Crimson Tide fought all the way back, eventually tying the game at 44 with 19:09 remaining. An exciting final minutes saw Auburn and the Crimson Tide go back and forth, until the No. 11 Tigers sealed the victory in overtime, 95-91.
"Tough game," Oats said. "Give them a lot of credit. They came out ready to play, I mean, we spotted them 16 and you can not do that in a big rivalry game like this and expect to get a favorable result."
Despite the loss, Kira Lewis Jr. made history for the second straight game.
Following up his career-high 37-point performance against Georgia, the sophomore guard notched the school's third ever triple-double with 10 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds against the Tigers.
It was the first time a Crimson Tide player completed that feat since 1996 (Roy Rogers).
"Nothing really matters if you lose," Lewis said when asked about what his record breaking performance means to him.
"I would feel better if we had won, but it is a triple-double in a loss."
What led to Alabama (13-11, 5-6 SEC) erasing a double-digit deficit was its hot shooing from 3-point range. The Crimson Tide set school and SEC records in attempts (59) and makes (22).
Nine of those 22 makes came in the first half, when the Crimson Tide was able to cut the deficit to only three at intermission, 44-41. Grad transfer guard Beetle Bolden had three makes from beyond the arc and 11 points at the break.
"There is a lot of positives for our guys," Oats said. "To fight back from a 16-0 start, to really cut it to three at the half was really big."
While Alabama was able to tie the contest up in the early stages of the second period, Auburn did end up taking an 11-point lead with 9:22 left.
Crimson Tide guard Jaden Shackelford was dialed in from distance, scoring 17 points after halftime and making four 3-pointers to give the Crimson Tide life late in the game. He finished with a game-high 28 points and eight rebounds.
The Tigers had opportunities to put the Crimson Tide away at the free-throw line, when senior forward Anfernee McLemore missed two crucial shots that would have sealed it with 23 seconds left.
Crimson Tide guard John Petty, Jr. grabbed the rebound of the second one and dribbled all the way down to the left wing, pulling up from 3-point range and hitting the jumper to tie the game at 81 with 14.9 seconds left.
One of the team's more gutsier performances came from junior forward Herbert Jones, who made his first appearance since undergoing surgery on a fractured wrist on Feb. 1. The Moundville, Ala. product wore a cast on his left wrist to prevent any further injury.
Jones had the task of defending Tigers guard J'Von McCormick on the last possession of regulation. His length and size made McCormick's attempt completely miss the rim, causing the game to go to overtime.
While Jones did not score from the field and foul out in overtime, he did finish with a team-high plus 13 in plus/minus and three rebounds. Lewis, took note of his teammates performance after the game.
"He [Jones] is a warrior," Lewis said. "To do what he did in seven minutes with one hand, not many people in the world could do that. He made big time plays. Hats off to him for playing with one hand, basically."
In the extra five minutes, the Tigers were too much for the Crimson Tide to handle.
Auburn opened on an 8-0 run, but the Crimson Tide was able to respond with timely 3-point shots from Shackelford, forward Jaylen Forbes, and guard John Petty, Jr. to cut the deficit to only two with only 23 seconds remaining.
Two free throws from McCormick made it a two possession game and shut the door shut on the Crimson Tide's hopes of winning.
The Tigers (22-2, 9-2 SEC) were led by freshman guard Isaac Okoro, who dropped 19 points and grabbed nine boards before he went down with an apparent hamstring injury before the end of regulation. Senior center Austin Wiley added 18 points and 17 rebounds.
Wiley's 17 boards went a long way in the rebounding battle, which Alabama lost by a margin of 60-44.
The Crimson Tide will be back in action against No. 25 LSU on Saturday at Coleman Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. on ESPN2.
"We have one quadrant one win right now," Oats said. "We have two chances left. LSU at home and then at Mississippi State. We have to go all in and get these wins. They are crucial to us in making an NCAA Tournament bid late in the year."