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January 26, 2008

Auburn falls in Tuscaloosa

Richard Hendrix scored 20 points as Alabama took over the game late in the first half and defeated Auburn 97-77 Saturday.

Alabama (12-8, 1-4) had five players score in double figures as the Crimson Tide picked up its first Southeastern Conference win after starting 0-4 in the league. The Alabama win broke a two-game Auburn winning streak in the in-state rivalry.

Hendrix was 8-11 from the field to lead a hot Alabama team that shot 54 percent from the field. Brandon Hollinger had 18 points on six 3-pointers for Alabama, while Alonzo Gee and freshman point guard Rico Pickett each had 17 and Mykal Riley 16.

Alabama took over the game with a little over 9 minutes remaining in the half, going on a 20-2 run and holding Auburn scoreless for more than 5 minutes. It appeared the game would be tight as the two teams swapped the lead for the first 10 minutes and Auburn led 20-19 when Pickett hit a 3-pointer at 9:12 in the first half.

Auburn came back and tied the score 22-22 on a layup by Matt Heramb. But Alabama would outscore Auburn 17-0 over the next 5 minutes using a tough zone defense to keep the Tigers away from the basket. The Tigers did not score again until Quantez Robertson hit two free throws with 3:37 to play in the half and narrowed the Crimson Tide lead to 39-24.

Hollinger hit two 3-pointers in the Alabama run, which put Alabama ahead for good.

Auburn narrowed the lead to 48-35 when Robertson hit a 3-pointer as the halftime buzzer sounded.

But Alabama stretched its lead quickly as Riley hit a 3-pointer less than 20 seconds into the second half. Alabama's biggest lead was 30 points after a fast break basket by Pickett with 9:48 to play gave the Crimson Tide a 81-51 lead.

It may have been the best game for Pickett, who has been filling in this season for injured point guard Ronald Steele. Pickett did not start, but came off the bench for an impressive performance, hitting outside shots and driving the basket. Pickett and Hollinger also controlled the ball from the point guard position as Alabama had only 4 turnovers to 15 for Auburn.

Auburn was led by Quan Prowell with 22 points and Rasheem Barrett with 20. Robertson had 10 for the Tigers.

The closest Auburn could get late in the game was 15 points at 90-75 with 1:59 to play.


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