NCAA Basketball Prediction: Alabama Crimson Tide at Auburn Tigers
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
by Joe Rodriguez
The Alabama Crimson Tide hits the road for the first time in two weeks to face in-state rival Auburn Tigers for the first time this season. Both teams prefer playing a half-court style of offense and would rather play a low-scoring game; Alabama averages only 66.4 points and Auburn averages 64.6 points.
Alabama, which has won two straight games including a double-overtime win over Ole Miss, has the edge on defense and allows only 58.3 points.
But Auburn, losers of three of its last four, has been especially tough at home with a 12-1 record, losing only to No. 1 Kentucky. Alabama leads the all-time series 87-56, but Auburn has won six of the last 10. The series at Auburn is tied at 25-25. Alabama won both of last year's games.
Alabama Crimson Tide (15-7): Trevor Releford has led the team in scoring in six of the last 11 games and is averaging 13.7 points with 32 assists and 33 steals during that stretch. Releford is averaging 12.3 points in 30.9 minutes. JaMychal Green is coming off the 24th double-double of his career, the best among active players in the SEC, and is averaging 13.8 points and 7.2 rebounds. Green tipped in the winning basket with 0.3 seconds left and scored 17 points in the last meeting in Tuscaloosa; he's averaging 11.5 points in six previous games against the Tide. Tony Mitchell, who was outstanding in the second OT against Ole Miss, is averaging 13.1 points and seven rebounds; he's averaged 10.8 points in four previous games against the Tigers. Reserve Charles Hankerson came back from knee surgery in five days and scored 10 points in 13 minutes against the Rebels.
Auburn Tigers (13-10): Varez Ward, who comes off the bench, has seen his average climb from 8.3 to 9.5 points over the last three games, during which he's averaged 17.7 points and made 84.4 percent of his free throws. Frankie Sullivan emerged from a slump (14 points in the two previous games) to get 16 points against Miss State; he's averaging 12.1 points and 4.2 rebounds. Sullivan needs 23 points to become the 33rd Auburn player to score 1,000 points. Kenny Gabriel is heating up, too; he's averaging 17 points and eight rebounds in the three previous games and is averaging 12.3 points and eight rebounds this season. The Tigers average 5.2 blocks (No. 24 in the nation), with Gabriel averaging 2.56.
1. The Alabama bench is averaging 28.3 points over the last three games.
2. Alabama is averaging 8.4 more points per game in the paint than its opponents.
3. Auburn is 3-3 in games decided by three points or less or in OT.
BASKETBALL PREDICTION: Crimson Tide 65, Tigers 57.
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