The Alabama Crimson Tide go for a second consecutive win over a top-five team when they face the No. 1 Auburn Tigers in an SEC contest Tuesday night. Opening tip for the intrastate rivalry contest is set for 9 pm ET at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Al.
Alabama (14-7, 4-4 SEC) has been somewhat inconsistent in conference play, but it is coming off Saturday’s home win over the then-No. 4 Baylor Bears. The Crimson Tide are in a four-way tie for sixth place in the SEC with LSU, Texas A&M and South Carolina.
The Tigers (20-1, 8-0) have been blowing through all competition, including Saturday’s 86-68 home win over the Oklahoma Sooners. Auburn is leading the SEC by two games second-place Kentucky, three games ahead of both Arkansas and Tennessee.
The college basketball lines for this game have the Tigers as 6½-point favorites at home, with the over/under at 156½ points if you want to make that bet online.
- Game: Alabama Crimson Tide (14-7) at Auburn Tigers (20-1)
- Location: Auburn Arena, Auburn, AL
- Day/Time/TV: Tuesday, Feb. 1st, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Tide Tough to Figure
The Crimson Tide have struggled sporadically against conference opponents, having lost to the Georgia Bulldogs in their last SEC game. That was the same Georgia team which entered winless in SEC play. However, when playing the big boys, Alabama has been big, knocking off both Gonzaga and Houston earlier in the year before Saturday’s win over Baylor.
“Our defense was a lot better, and when we needed stops, we got them,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said after Saturday’s win. “I told our guys they needed to start having fun. That was a fun environment today, and our energy was much better. That was encouraging.”
If the Crimson Tide are going to whip the nation’s top-ranked team Tuesday, they’ll need a big game from guard Jaden Shackelford and his team-leading 17.2 points per game. Shackelford had 19 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals in Saturday’s victory, and he’ll have to have that same kind of production against Auburn. He was held to 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting in the first meeting with the Tigers this season.
Auburn was an 81-77 winner at Tuscaloosa three weeks ago.
Guard Jahvon Quinerly led Alabama with 14 points against Auburn in that meeting, despite just 4-for-19 from the field (2-for-10 from 3-point range). He had 20 points and five assists against Baylor.
Guard Keon Ellis is pacing the Crimson Tide in both rebounding (6.1 rpg) and steals (2.0 spg) per game. He’s also contributing 12.1 points per contest, though he’s the third double-figure scorer for ‘Bama who’s shooting under 45% from the field.
Year of the Tiger?
Auburn averages 79.7 points per game, but what sets this Auburn team apart from the rest of the SEC–and much of college basketball–is its work on the defensive end. Coach Bruce Pearl’s squad is holding opponents to 65.4 points per game and 39.1% shooting from the floor (31.4% from 3-point range).
Having a great shot-blocker in Walker Kessler helps. Kessler leads the SEC and ranks second in the country with 4.05 blocks per contest. He’s also scoring 11.3 points per game (62.7% from the floor) while grabbing a team-best 7.7 rebounds per contest.
The top point-producer for the Tigers has been forward Jabari Smith, averaging 15.6 points to go along with 6.8 rebounds per game. He’s a disrupter on the defensive end, averaging 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks.
Guard Wendell Green Jr. leads the SEC in with 4.9 assists per game, and he’s contributing 12.1 points and 1.6 steals per game as well. Guard K.D. Johnson (13.2 ppg) is tied for 23rd in the country with 2.1 steals per contest.
Tigers Keep Rolling
Alabama is due for a letdown after its big win over Baylor, and Auburn at home has been tough for any opponent. The Tigers won’t look past their rivals in this one, using their defense to keep a perfect conference record intact.
When making your college basketball picks, take Auburn to win and cover at home.