TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Alabama men’s basketball squad is gearing up for a big matchup against in-state rival Auburn on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide is coming off of a big win against No. 22 Mississippi State.
Although Auburn has recently fallen out of the AP Top 25, it had an outstanding first half to the season and still remains a very difficult foe, especially on its home court. On Wednesday, the Tigers enjoyed a dominating 92-58 win over Missouri to snap a three-game losing streak.
“We know who we’re playing,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “We know where we’re playing, we understand the rivalry more, we understand how much it means, not only to our players, but to their families, our fans and their families.
“This idea of me taking some cool, calm approach because I was new and a little wet behind the ears to this rivalry, I totally understand now, and we embrace the rivalry even more.”
In order to prepare to play at Auburn Arena, the Crimson Tide did something unconventional in its practice routine. On Thursday, Johnson had sound piped into the practice gym in order to prepare the players for the harsh environment — similar to what the Crimson Tide football team does.
“It’s one of the louder places we play on the road,” Johnson said. “We just wanted to give our players a little bit of a feel for what they’re going to hear.
“We just didn’t use the bad language.”
Alabama (13-7, 4-3 SEC) at Auburn (14-6, 3-4) is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. CT tip (ESPN2).
Here’s five things to know:
1] Saturday’s meeting will mark the 159th time that the two teams have played, with the Crimson Tide leading the series 95-63. The 95 victories for Alabama marks the fourth-best against any team in program history.
2] Since the Tigers opened Auburn Arena in 2010, Alabama has a record of 3-5 there, including the last three games. All-time, the Crimson Tide has a record of 29-31 when traveling to the Plains.
3] Alabama's win over No. 22 Mississippi State on Tuesday was the Crimson Tide's third against a ranked opponent at home in January. The other two ranked teams were then-No. 13 Kentucky and then-No. 20 Ole Miss. Alabama has now won seven straight against ranked opponents at Coleman Coliseum.
4] Auburn ranks second in the SEC in scoring offense with 84.2 points per game. The Tigers also rank second in scoring margin at +15.4, 84.2-68.8. The Tigers lead the SEC in turnover margin (+5.6), offensive rebounds per game (14.4), offensive rebounding percentage (.377), and threes made per game (11.1). Overall, Auburn is shooting 45.6 percent from the floor, with 36.7 percent from beyond the arc, and is 69.8 percent from the free-throw line.
5] Auburn coach Bruce Pearl is currently in his fifth season as head coach, and owns a record of 84-68 (.553). Pearl has coached in the NCAA for 24 seasons, and owns an overall record of 546-213 (.719). In 17 of his 23 years as a head coach, Pearl’s teams have led their conference.