January 27, 2008

Report card: Alabama 97, Auburn 77

Perimeter Offense
Vast improvements in multiple areas here. Most obvious was better shooting, as the Crimson Tide reversed a two-game, 5-for-34 stretch from the 3-point line in converting 12 of 25 from long range. Brandon Hollinger was as hot as fans have ever seen him. Alonzo Gee and Rico Pickett gave UA some much-needed penetration off the dribble. The duo took only took five 3-pointers between them, yet still scored a combined 34 points. Alabama is a better team when those two are attacking the basket. UA's guards committed only two turnovers.

Interior OffenseRichard Hendrix turned in his usual workmanlike effort with 20 points and eight rebounds, but continued to struggle from the free-throw line (4 of 9). He was truly a one-man show inside as reserves Yamene Coleman and Justin Knox were DNPs, and forward Demetrius Jemison fouled out in just 21 minutes with only one point. Jemison, Gee and Mykal Riley each had three offensive rebounds to help extend possessions.

Perimeter Defense
Just as Alabama's perimeter game was better on offense, it was better on defense as well. Auburn shot 6 of 22 from 3-point range, and UA did a better job of contesting shots. Even more surprisingly, the Crimson Tide was able to defend the perimeter in zone looks as well as it did in man-to-man defense. Alabama forced 15 turnovers and, as AU coach Jeff Lebo noted in postgame remarks, many of them led to easy baskets.

Interior Defense
Auburn's Quan Prowell delivered a game-high 22 points on 9 of 12 shooting. While he had his way inside, much of his scoring came with the game out of reach. Jemison fouling out wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Alabama needs him to be more of an enforcer in the paint, keeping fouls off Hendrix and preventing easy baskets. His offensive game isn't invaluable, so his aggression inside was a welcome sight.

Bench Play
Pickett scored 17 in a non-starting role, the most points a UA bench player has scored in a conference game this season. Senario Hillman was the other bench player to see significant minutes, and he pitched in eight points, four assists and a SportsCenter-worthy dunk over AU's Lucas Hargrove. Hillman's minutes are on a steep incline (season-high 25 Saturday).

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