No. 3 Alabama is undefeated in the Southeastern Conference but faces a stern test when it visits rival Auburn for a Saturday afternoon showdown.
The Crimson Tide (21-3, 11-0 SEC) have won 12 of their last 13 games, including a dominating 97-69 home victory over Florida on Wednesday. The only setback for coach Nate Oats’ team over that span was a shocking 93-69 loss at Oklahoma.
Leading the charge is freshman sensation Brandon Miller, who leads the team in minutes (32.9), scoring (19.0) and rebounding (8.3). He tallied 24 points, nine rebounds and three assists against the Gators to spark Alabama to its best SEC start since the 1955-56 team went 14-0 in league play.
The Crimson Tide also matched the 1975-76 team — coached by the great C.M. Newton — for the best 24-game start in school history.
“It’s great. They’ve had a lot of really good teams here,” Oats said. “I don’t even know who was in the SEC back in ’55-’56, but it’s a good league now. We’re just trying to play good basketball. I thought we played pretty well tonight. It’s nice to make some history around here.”
Mark Sears (13.9) and Noah Clowney (10.1) are Alabama’s other double-digit scorers. But the Crimson Tide has a deep playing rotation, and guys like Jaden Bradley, Nimari Burnett, Rylan Griffen and Jahvon Quinerly are all solid scorers who double as quality defenders.
Charles Bediako is Alabama’s anchor in the post and recorded four blocks against the Gators. He’ll be tested, however, squaring off against Auburn big man Johni Broome, who is one of the SEC’s best low-post performers.
Broome recorded his eighth double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out in an 83-78 road loss to Texas A&M Tuesday night. It was the sixth straight game he has scored in double figures.
Wendell Green Jr. led Auburn (17-7, 7-4) with 20 points and six assists in the loss to the Aggies. He’s the Tigers leading scorer at 13.9 points per game, while his 4.4 assists per game rank third in the league.
If Auburn is to pull the upset, the Tigers need strong efforts from Green as well as Jaylin Williams and Allen Flanigan, who are capable scorers when they are shooting well.
The Tigers will also need to get good production from K.D Johnson and Dylan Cardwell off the bench. Auburn has lost four of its last five games, but two consecutive road losses to Tennessee and Texas A&M doesn’t have coach Bruce Pearl hitting the panic button.
“(This game) tells you these kids are buying into the scouts,” Pearl said after the loss to the Aggies. “It tells you they’re preparing. It tells you they’re grinding. We were ready to play. We started both halves well. (Coaches) Wes Flanigan and Chad Prewett did a great job with the scout. We played a lot of good basketball out here. We’ve just got to build on it.”
–Field Level Media