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Alabama wins Iron Bowl of Basketball to stay beaten in SEC play

 Dean Harrell   in Basketball

The Iron Bowl of basketball has finally come, and it surely did not disappoint.

In perhaps one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the season for both teams up until this point, the Alabama Crimson Tide (22-3, 12-0 Southeastern Conference) remain perfect in the SEC as they take down the Auburn Tigers (17-8, 7-5) in Neville Arena, 77-69.

Once again, freshman guard Rylan Griffen flourished off the bench as he was able to put up 16 points, shooting 5-for-7 from the field and burying 3-for-5 from long range. Griffen has made several big steps in the last few games for the Crimson Tide as he has been able to make the most out of his minutes off the bench.

Ohio transfer Mark Sears trailed Griffen with 15 points of his own, 10 of which came in the second half, also went 5-for-7 from the field. Sears also came down with six boards and led both teams in steals as he came away with three. 

Though freshman superstar Brandon Miller had an off night in terms of his shooting as he missed all seven of his three point attempts, the projected lottery pick still put up 13 points and grabbed six boards as well. 

For the Tigers, Wendell Green Jr. stepped up as much as he could, scoring 24 points off 7-for-19 shooting. Green finished the first half with eight points and continued to battle in the second half, keeping Auburn in the game as he scored the other 16 in the second half. 

In a game where Johni Broome and Allen Flanigan combined for only 15 points, Bruce Pearl’s squad saw major improvements from senior forward Jaylin Williams and junior guard K.D. Johnson in the scoring category.

Williams was able to score 16, burying three of his six attempts from long range, along with grabbing nine total rebounds. Of his nine rebounds, three were on the offensive glass which became a trend throughout the matchup for the Tigers, as they grabbed 16 total offensive rebounds.

Johnson was a valuable piece for Auburn off the bench as he scored 12 points while shooting a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe. 

Though Alabama shot a poor 13-for-23 from the line, Nate Oats’ team made up for it with their 59.2% shooting from the field, with four players in double figures.

Auburn, however, had the exact opposite result as they shot a disappointing 32.3% from the field, but went 22-for-26 from the line. 

Alabama’s Deep Roster

When a team such as Alabama has top-rated talent like Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney on the team, it is easy to overlook the “other guys” that make up this successful team.

Mark Sears has been one of the Crimson Tide’s most consistent players all season long. Almost every game this season, the junior guard from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, has been in double figures while also showing his ability on defense to come up with steal after steal on the regular. 

Especially recently, Rylan Griffen has proven that he can be a future star for the Crimson Tide in the next coming seasons as he has been scoring over 11 points off the bench in four of his last five games. The Dallas, Texas native has proven to be a major sparkplug off the bench Nate Oats knows when to call upon when needed.

After dealing with a torn ACL all of last season, and a couple of injuries this season, Nimari Burnett has also been a key piece off the bench for the Crimson Tide recently as well. Burnett is starting to find his groove again offensively as he was able to put up 16 against Vanderbilt, and 13 against LSU in the following game. 

On nights when Clowney and Miller are struggling to see the ball go in, they can always count on their teammates to keep them in games at a consistent rate. 

Auburn’s Recent Skid

Auburn has now dropped its third straight game after losing to Alabama.

The formerly ranked Tigers started off the season very hot, going 11-2 throughout their first 13 games of the season.

However, they have recently hit a rough patch as they have only come up with one win out of their last six games losing to Texas A&M twice, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama. 

Though Auburn has notoriously been a team to watch out for in the past couple of years, this last stretch of conference opponents before the tournament is crucial for the Tigers to gain some confidence as March slowly approaches.