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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 30, 8:15 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Auburn Arena (9,121) -- Auburn, Alabama. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: Alabama 9-3, Auburn 8-3. Away Record: Alabama 0-4, Auburn 0-5. Neutral Record: Alabama 0-3, Auburn 0-1. Conference Record: Alabama 3-3, Auburn 0-6. Series Record: Alabama leads, 89-58.
GAME NOTES: The Auburn Tigers will try once again to earn their first SEC victory of the season on Thursday night, as they return home to Auburn Arena to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide.
This game was orginally scheuled for Wednesday night but moved due to inclement weather.
Auburn's non-conference slate of games went rather smoothly, as it opened up the season with eight wins in its first 11 matchups, but it has gone into a tailspin since entering SEC play, losing six in a row, matching South Carolina for last place. The Tigers most recently suffered an 86-67 road defeat at the hands of Arkansas.
Alabama had been losers of two straight coming into its Saturday evening tilt with LSU, and while it nearly blew a big lead, it managed to hold on for an 82-80 triumph. The Tide are now 9-10 overall and 3-3 in conference action, but they have been a mess away from home, dropping all four true road bouts (0-7 in combined road and neutral-floor games).
The Tide have won six of the last seven meetings with the Tigers to extend their lead in the all-time series to 89-58.
The Tide appeared well on their way to an easy victory their last time out leading by 19 early in the second half before LSU climbed back to take a one- point lead with 1:10 left, but they quickly responded with a Shannon Hale 3- pointer to go back on top and held on from there. They shot an impressive 51.9 percent from the field on the evening, including 8-of-16 from 3-point range, and were equally as stellar from the free-throw line (20-of-26). Trevor Releford drained all eight of his foul shots en route to a game-high 21 points. Rodney Cooper was 4-of-5 from 3-point range for 19 points, Hale finished with 17 points and six assists and Levi Randolph poured in 14 points in a reserve role.
Alabama boasts a modest offensive attack this season, shooting 45.3 percent from the field for 70.6 ppg. Releford leads the way with 18.2 ppg and is one of the nation's most efficient guards, shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 90.4 percent from the free-throw line. Retin Obasohan (12.2 ppg) has missed the past two games with a hip injury and his defensive prowess (2.4 spg, 1.4 bpg) has been missed. Randolph brings 9.4 ppg to the table.
The Tigers didn't stood a chance in their tilt with Arkansas over the weekend, as they never held a lead en route to the 19-point loss, shooting just 36.2 percent from the field (including 4-of-19 from 3-point range) while committing a game-high 18 turnovers. Chris Denson had a dreadful day from the field, shooting just 3-of-15, but he made up for it with a 12-of-17 showing at the foul line on his way to 18 points. KT Harrell posted 17 points and seven rebounds, while Tahj Shamsid-Deen added 12 points to the losing effort.
Auburn's offensive output is usually much more reliable, as it shoots 44.9 percent from the field for 73.2 ppg this season, but its problem comes on the opposite end of the floor, where it yields 72.2 ppg. The team is fortunate enough to have the SEC's second-leading scorer on its side in Harrell, who nets 19.1 ppg, shooting an outstanding 44-of-105 from 3-point range (.419) and 75-of-89 from the free-throw line (.843). Denson is right on Harrell's heels with 18.8 ppg, although his free-throw performance (95-of-154, .617) has been sub par. Shamsid-Deen (8.9 ppg, 3.1) and Allen Payne (7.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.2 spg) are solid role players.
Alabama has been far from impressive this season, but this seems to be a perfect opportunity to pick up that first road win on the year.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Alabama 71, Auburn 67
01/30 10:35:43 ET
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