Mitchell, Alabama pull away from Auburn 68-58
AUBURN, Ala. – Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green each scored 15 points and Alabama pulled away for a 68-58 victory over Auburn on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide (12-7, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) made 15 of 17 free throws over the final 2:14 and clamped down defensively, forcing Auburn to turn it into a foul-line marathon.
The Tigers (7-12, 0-5) went 4:22 without a basket before Earnest Ross hit a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to end a string of seven straight misses. Ross made two free throws to cut the margin to six points, but Alabama iced it at the line.
Alabama, which upset No. 12 Kentucky on Tuesday night, has now won seven of its last eight games. The Tide forced 21 turnovers.
Trevor Releford and Senario Hillman scored 10 points apiece for the Tide and many of them came at the line, where Alabama went 24 of 30. That made up for a 4-of-20 performance from 3-point range.
Chris Hines added eight points and five of the team's 15 steals. Mitchell had sent Alabama into halftime on top 29-27 with a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left.
Ross led Auburn with 20 points, 13 rebounds and five assists while Kenny Gabriel added 11 points. The league's lowest scoring team at least topped its 40 points from a five-point loss to Florida two days earlier despite facing a defense giving up the nation's third-lowest field goal percentage and ranked seventh in points allowed.
But the Tigers once again struggled to score after keeping the game close most of the way.
Auburn couldn't take advantage of Green's foul trouble after he went to the bench with his fourth with 9:25 remaining.
The Tide was unable to push its second-half lead past three points until Releford's 3-pointer made it 51-47 with 6:21 left.
Alabama pushed it into double digits, at 61-51, on Releford's two free throws with 56 seconds left. Ross hit a 3-pointer and two free throws down the stretch for Auburn but the Tide kept making its foul shots.
The sellout crowd did get plenty to cheer about at halftime, when the ODK Trophy given to the winner of the Iron Bowl was presented to coach Gene Chizik and the football team.