Despite a 10-point lead at halftime the Alabama Crimson Tide (16-13, 6-9 SEC) fell to the Auburn Tigers (20-10, 9-6 SEC) 77-73 Tuesday evening at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa.
While the Tide lead for the majority of the game, a second half run by Auburn and poor execution by Alabama at the charity stripe would put the Tigers up for good around the 6:30 mark in the second half.
A three-point basket by Andrew Steele pulled the game to a 73-73 tie with 1:10 left in the game, however the Tigers would pull away with two lay-ups by Korvotney Barber and Frankie Sullivan while the Tide failed to score in the final minute.
With the victory in Tuscaloosa, Auburn clinches the No. 2 SEC West seed in the SEC tournament next week in Tampa. The Tigers also take a step closer to securing a NCAA tournament bid. A win over No. 12 ranked LSU this Saturday could seal the deal for the Tigers making a rare NCAA tournament appearance.
While many criticize Auburn's week out of conference schedule, including a home loss to Mercer, their performance in their last 10 games and 10 conference wins make Auburn a strong candidate for the Big Dance.
While Alabama was not on the NCAA radar, they were looking to make an impression for a possible bid in the NIT. The Crimson Tide also still had hopes of grabbing the No. 2 SEC West seed, which would have given the Tide a bye in the first round of the conference tournament. Alabama still has a chance at the No. 3 SEC West seed if Mississippi State drops their last two games and Alabama is able to upset Tennessee in Knoxville Saturday morning.
Both teams will finish out their regular season Saturday. Auburn will take on LSU at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum down on the plains, while Alabama will face off against Tennessee at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.
The Alabama-Tennessee game will be another nationally televised game on CBS, tip off scheduled for 11:00 a.m. CST.
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