Crimson Tide seek to remain atop SEC vs. Auburn

NCAA Basketball

The Southeastern Conference-leading Alabama Crimson Tide put their unblemished league record on the line when they visit the league’s only three-loss team, rival Auburn, on Saturday.

Alabama (8-3) is coming off an 86-71 win over Florida on Tuesday, its fourth straight win. The Crimson Tide are 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 1986-87.

Herbert Jones, Jaden Shackelford and Keon Ellis scored 16 points each against the Gators, with eight rebounds from Ellis, who had a career high in points.

“That was a great effort from all of our guys defensively. I thought we really locked in after the first eight minutes,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “If you take away that first minute-and-a-half of the second half, I thought our defense was really good that half as well. Florida is a good team. … I thought we did a good job to keep them out of the paint and we had a big advantage in paint scoring.”

Alabama had 46 points in the paint to the Gators’ 28.

The Crimson Tide are 7-0 when they shoot 40 percent or better and when they score 80 or more points in a game.

The Tigers (6-5, 0-3 SEC) are off to a rough start in SEC play, losing their third straight game on Wednesday, 72-61, at Ole Miss. Forward Jaylin Williams scored a career-high 24 points, but Auburn could not overcome a 14-point halftime deficit.

The Tigers made just 36 percent of their shots for the game and took 30 3-pointers, making 10. Williams connected on six of those.

The three-ball is a staple of coach Bruce Pearl’s Auburn teams.

Auburn was without guard Justin Powell and missed his 11.7 points, six rebounds and almost five assists per game average due to a head injury. He was questionable for Wednesday night’s game and didn’t play, so his status is up in the air for Saturday.

“There’s not a lot of room for error,” Pearl told the Auburn athletics website. “So obviously, I am proud of them for continuing to battle. But as long as we continue to grow and learn — the schedule is going to get tougher now. It’s going to get tougher with Alabama at home, then going to Georgia, we play Kentucky. This is all just a process.”

The Tigers committed 16 turnovers against Ole Miss and are averaging 16.9 per contest — only two other SEC teams commit more.

–Field Level Media

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