Wednesday, January 26, 2005
» Box Score
By JOHN ZENOR, AP Sports Writer
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Earnest Shelton scored 22 points and made five late 3s to lead No. 14 Alabama to a 60-55 victory Wednesday night over Auburn.
The Crimson Tide (16-3, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) had a 15-point lead cut to one in the second half. But Chuck Davis hit two free throws and drove for a basket to help secure Alabama's fourth straight win over its archrival.
Alabama vaulted eight spots in the rankings this week but couldn't pull off the expected blowout of the Tigers (9-9, 0-5), who had lost their previous league games by an average 21.5 points.
Kennedy Winston had 16 points for the Tide and made all four 3-point attempts. Instead of taking advantage of a big size edge inside against Division I's smallest team, Alabama did much of its damage far from the basket, making 11-of-22 3-pointers.
Davis had 10 points and Jermareo Davidson had 14 rebounds for Alabama.
The Tide built a 44-29 lead with 12 minutes left on Winston's 3-pointer, but struggled offensively after that with point guard Ron Steele heading to the bench with four fouls midway through the half and fouling out in the final minutes.
Auburn's Quinnel Brown forced two straight turnovers, heaving a pass to Nathan Watson for one dunk and finishing the second off with a dunk of his own to cut it to 53-52 with 2:30 left.
Davis hit two free throws and a leaner in the paint to push the lead back to five points with a minute to play. Watson made one of two free throws with 39 seconds left and Steele's sub, Albert Weber, missed two free throws to keep Auburn's hopes alive.
But the Tigers, who had been giving up 87 points in league games, couldn't get an open 3-point attempt, having to settle for Toney Douglas' off-balance shot inside the line. Winston added two free throws with 6 seconds left.
Watson led Auburn with 13 points, Ian Young had 11 points and six assists, and Brown had 10 points and seven rebounds. Douglas, the SEC's leading scorer, was held to nine points -- 10 below his average -- on 4-of-13 shooting.
Alabama was only 6-of-17 shooting in the second half but made four 3-pointers and 13 of 17 free throws.
The first half went in similar fashion. The Tide hit five consecutive 3s to build a 13-point lead and was in front 31-22 at the break. The Tigers, meanwhile, made only one of six 3s in their lowest-scoring half of the season.