Tide Slipping Off Tournament Bubble After Auburn Loss

Alabama basketball has seen its share of highs and lows this season, and Saturday night saw another low, as the Crimson Tide were run out of Auburn Arena after falling to the Tigers 84-63. Alabama kicked off SEC play back in January with a thrilling win over the Kentucky – their first since 2013 – to break a 10-game losing streak to the Wildcats.

The Tide have picked up good wins over Ole Miss and Mississippi State, but the verdict is still out on both of those teams, actually. It would have gone a long way for Alabama’s tournament bubble if the Tide had been able to pull out a road win against Tennessee several weeks back.

ESPN ‘Bracketologist’ Joe Lunardi currently has Alabama as one of the last four teams getting a bye in the tournament and has the Tide as an 11-seed in the Tulsa region. Avery Johnson’s team has not won back-to-back games since snapping a five-game win streak, racking up wins against Arizona, Liberty, Penn State, Stephen F. Austin, and peaking with the win over Kentucky. So far, that stretch has been the high of the Tide this season. Alabama lost at LSU in their next game after the UK win and has ebbed and flowed, alternating wins and losses each game since.

If the Tide want to avoid falling off the NCAA tournament bubble and into the oblivion called the National Invitational Tournament, it would be better served by not slipping up during the next two games against porous opponents like Georgia and Vanderbilt. The upcoming schedule sets up nicely for Alabama if it can get through those two games and then go and steal a game in Starkville.

The toughest part of the conference slate is over for Avery’s squad, but upcoming games at Mississippi State, at South Carolina, and home games against Auburn and LSU will really determine whether or not Alabama will go dancing in March.

Saturday’s loss to Auburn was probably the most humbling defeat of the season, as the Tide came away with a 21-point loss to the Tigers. That was the largest margin of defeat for Alabama this season.

“They played an extremely great game tonight, on both ends of the floor,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “They had more energy, they out-hustled us. We didn’t play our best game today.”

Auburn turned an early Crimson Tide lead into a route in the first half, as the Tigers went on a 21-2 run early on and took a 48-28 lead into intermission. Alabama committed seven turnovers in the final 6:36 of the first-half and Auburn went to the break on a 19-2 run. The closest Alabama would get in the second-half is 11-points, but the Tide would eventually fall 84-63.

The Tide shot 45-percent from the field, compared to Auburn’s 52-percent, and were only out-rebounded 31-29, but the turnovers proved to be costly for Alabama, especially in the first half when Auburn did most of its damage. The Tigers’ Bryce Brown finished with 23, while Jared Harper added 19 points. John Petter came off the bench to score 18 for the Tide.

Alabama will host Georgia and first-year head coach Tom Crean at Coleman Coliseum, as the Tide look to get back on track and avoid a two-game losing streak that would likely bump them off the bubble. Check out other articles at http://www.rolltide.com

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