Alabama struggled offensively for much of Wednesday night.
Yet the Crimson Tide surged ahead when it mattered, and made a huge run even after a skirmish led to a long delay and a trio of ejections at Coleman Coliseum.
No. 2 Alabama, after trailing by as many as 17 points in the second half, mounted a massive run late in the game to beat Auburn 90-85 in overtime in Tuscaloosa. That win officially clinched the SEC regular season title for Alabama for the second time in three seasons.
Alabama mounts run amid wild fight, delay
Alabama opened the game on the wrong side of a 10-2 run that spanned more than five minutes, and struggled to keep up well into the second half — which landed the Crimson Tide into a deep 17 point hole.
After slowly chipping away at that mark, however, things got heated.
Alabama’s Jahvon Quinerly and Auburn’s Wendell Green Jr. got into it under the Auburn bench in what was a rather confusing situation. The altercation erupted after a fight for a rebound went out of bounds right before a scheduled media timeout. After Alabama was awarded the ball, the Crimson Tide bench ran out onto the court to celebrate and set up for that timeout. As they started noticing Quinerly and Green get into it on the other end, however, some Alabama players and an assistant coach started running to get involved.
By the time things were sorted out several minutes later, Alabama center Charles Bediako and guard Rylen Griffen, along with an assistant coach, were ejected for leaving the bench area and crossing halfcourt. Per NCAA rules, doing so during a fight is an automatic ejection.
While the delay resulted in a very long delay, it didn’t hinder Alabama’s run one bit. The Crimson Tide finished a 16-0 run and even took their first lead of night on a pair of Quinerly free throws with just 95 seconds left in the game. Auburn quickly tied it back up off an Allen Flanigan layup, though, and the game went into overtime.
Alabama then handled the game quickly, and took a five-point lead — its biggest of the game — almost instantly when Noah Clowney threw down a dunk and Mark Sears backed it up with a 3-pointer.
From there, Alabama held on to take the five-point win.
Quinerly led Alabama with a season-high 24 points and six assists off the bench. Sears and Clowney each finished with 17 points. Brandon Miller, after struggling to do much of anything offensively early, finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. The Crimson Tide shot just 8-of-31 from behind the arc as a team, though they’ve now won four straight ahead of Saturday’s regular season finale against No. 24 Texas A&M.
Auburn, on the other hand, has now lost six of its last eight games and is sitting right on the bubble for the NCAA tournament. K.D. Johnson led the Tigers with 21 points off the bench, and FLanigan finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. They’ll host No. 12 Tennessee on Saturday in their final game of the season, one that now would go a long way to ensure their spot in the tournament.