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Auburn wrecks Alabama at Neville to tie for SEC lead

The Auburn Tigers have tied things up at the top of the Southeastern Conference after Wednesday night’s 99-81 bludgeoning of Alabama. Both teams are 8-2 in the conference.

In an issue that has persisted for Alabama throughout the season, the Tide simply could not handle the big men of Auburn, with Johni Broome scoring 24 points with seven rebounds and Jaylin Williams scoring 26 and six.

The turning point of the night came in the final minutes of the first half. After Auburn came out hot to start the game and take a double-digit lead, Alabama battled back to take a 39-38 lead with 3:44 remaining.

But Auburn would then go on a 16-2 scoring run to end the first half and take a 55-41 lead into intermission.

Alabama also turned the ball over nine times in the first half compared to just one for Auburn. The Tigers scored 15 points off turnovers in the first half.

Broome and Williams combined for 31 points in the first half.

In the second half, Auburn got to the free-throw line 34 times (they had 50 attempts in the game) and converted 27 of them.

After Auburn’s run to end the first half, Alabama never pulled closer than 12 points in the second half, and even trailed by as many as 23 at one point.

Alabama would turn it over six more times in the second half compared to four for Auburn, ending the turnover battle at 15-5.

Alabama’s Mark Sears scored 16 points in the second half giving him 25 for the game, but overall did not have enough of an impact to make it a game.

Auburn’s 50 free throw attempts were the second most of any Division I game this season, and 40 makes broke a Tigers program record.

“Auburn was ready to go, and we weren’t. This was for first place, and they came out and played like it was for first place. We played like we would still be in first place if we won, which is disappointing … Tonight, they were better than us,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said.

“I felt like going into this game, it was clearly the biggest regular season game we’ve had this year. We’ve put ourselves in a position where at least we’re still in it. Crowd was amazing, the environment was tremendous. ESPN goes to a lot of great buildings, a lot of sellout crowds, but this place (Neville Arena) is different,” said Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl.

Next up for Auburn is a tough road test Saturday at Florida. Tipoff is 2:30 p.m. CST on the SEC Network. Alabama will head to Baton Rouge to take on LSU at 11 a.m. CST on ESPN.

Michael Brauner is a Senior Sports Analyst and Contributing Writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @MBraunerWNSP

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