March 6, 2010
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - On Senior Day before a sold-out crowd at Coleman Coliseum, senior guard Mikhail Torrance notched his second career double-double with 13 points and a career-high 12 rebounds to lead the Alabama men's basketball team to a 73-61 victory over in-state rival Auburn, snapping a four-game losing streak to the Tigers.
"To be honest with you I really was unaware of any streak," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "My approach is game-to-game. Obviously this was a big win in our state."
With the victory, Alabama improves to 16-14 (6-10 SEC) to clinch their 10th consecutive winning season, while Auburn falls to 15-16 (6-10 SEC) as the teams split the season-series.
"I thought our defense was outstanding today and it was a great win for our team," Grant said.
Prior to tipoff, head coach Anthony Grant and the capacity crowd honored this year's three Tide seniors, Anthony Brock, Torrance and Greg Cage. All three seniors scored, led by Torrance's 13 points while Brock and Cage scored nine and four points, respectively.
Freshman forward Tony Mitchell and junior forward Chris Hines joined Torrance in double-figures. Mitchell poured in a team-high 16 points, while Hines dropped in 13 for the Tide.
The Crimson Tide held the early advantage through the first 12 minutes, though Auburn knocked down a pair of threes to open the game, 6-0. Alabama answered with a 14-4 scoring run over the next 7:05 to take a four-point lead at the 11:50 mark in the first.
Alabama did not relinquish the lead until an Auburn free throw put the Tigers up one with 45.5 seconds left in the first half. Brock sunk a floater 20 seconds later to regain the lead, 31-30, which would remain the score as the teams headed to the locker rooms for halftime.
Picking up where it left off, the Tide opened the second half with a 9-2 run over the opening 3:04 to push their lead to six points. The Tigers continued to battle and closed the gap to just one point. Four minutes later, Alabama again found itself with a seven-point lead with 9:33 remaining and did not look back.
"Our guys showed great fight," Grant said. " I thought in the second half we came out defensively and really set the tone with our ability to make them struggle really in terms of the pressure we put on them."
Alabama took control of the contest, outscoring Auburn 19-10 over the next 7:37 to extend the margin to 14-points, 61-47. With 53 seconds left in the game, the Tide held a 16-point advantage over the Tigers - the largest lead for either squad.
The Tide connected on nearly half of all its shots, shooting a crisp 49.1 percent (27-of-55) from the field for the game, including 75 percent (15-of-20) from the charity stripe.
Once again, Alabama showcased why it has the No. 1 defense in the Southeastern Conference, holding the Tigers to just 35.5 percent (22-of-62) from the field. In addition, the swarming defense forced Auburn into 14 turnovers, and had seven steals.
The Tide held the advantage on the glass, pulling down 41 rebounds compared to the Tiger's 32. Alabama made the most of its rebounding, dropping in 17 second-chance points, while holding Auburn to just eight. The Tide outscored the Tigers in the paint, 44-28.
Up next, Alabama travels to Nashville, Tenn., for the SEC Tournament on Thursday, March 11. With today's victory and South Carolina's win at Vanderbilt, Alabama earned the No. 4 seed in the Western Division and will face South Carolina in the first round of the tourney on March 11 at noon in Nashville, Tenn.