BAMA
AUBURN

No Text

Sexton leads Alabama's 2nd-half surge to beat No. 16 Auburn

ST. LOUIS (AP) Auburn's offense was flowing at the end of the first half. Desean Murray hit his third 3-pointer and ripped off five straight points to put the Tigers up 41-31 over the Crimson Tide at halftime.

Then, the Collin Sexton show started.

Sexton scored 31 points and Alabama used a strong second half to defeat No. 16 Auburn 81-63 Friday in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

The Crimson Tide started the second half on a 28-3 run keyed by three consecutive 3s by Sexton. Alabama's surge put the Tigers away early in the half, and the Crimson Tide (19-14) outscored Auburn 50-22 after the break.

''I didn't raise my voice,'' Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. ''I used understandable English, no bad words, and we just talked about how we needed to improve in the second half, and they did it.''

Mustapha Heron led Auburn (25-7) with 18 points, 11 of which came in the first half. Desean Murray scored 15 points, all in the first half. The Tigers moved the ball well on offense and drilled seven 3s in the first half.

By the time halftime arrived, it was all Sexton. The freshman scored 21 second-half points. The performance came after he scored 27 points and hit the game-winning shot against Texas A&M on Thursday.

Auburn's shooting struggles continued. Jared Harper finished 2 of 11 with seven points. Bryce Brown shot 1-for-8 from beyond the arc. The Tigers shot just 24 percent in the second half and 1-for-14 from 3-point range.

''It was a tale of two halves,'' Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. ''We did what we wanted to do in the first half. At the start of the second half, they came down and flipped the table on us really quickly.''

BIG PICTURE

Alabama: Sexton has been awesome for the Tide all year, but he has especially come alive in the SEC Tournament. His dominance here may already have earned the Tide a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Auburn: The Tigers are a shell of their midseason selves right now. Auburn's offense looked dynamic in the first half, but the team imploded down the stretch. The Tigers have lost four of their last six games and their NCAA Tournament seed continues to drop.

PEARL'S POSTGAME

On his way off the court following Auburn's loss, Pearl appeared to bump into Alabama strength and conditioning coach Lou DeNeen. ''I think he may have clipped me, and then he said something to me,'' Pearl said after the game. ''Of course, I should be able to walk off the floor without having somebody stand in front of me and try to make contact with me. So that was all it was.''

TOURNEY TEAM?

Alabama came into the SEC Tournament on a five-game losing streak and in danger of falling out of NCAA contention. But after dominating Auburn, the Tide are at 19 wins and have won six ranked games this season. Johnson made his pitch to the committee following the game.

''We feel we have one of the most impressive resumes with any team in the country with all our top-25 wins, quadrant-one wins, winning on a neutral floor, back-to-back games in the SEC Tournament against two outstanding teams that are projected and supposedly already in the tournament,'' he said.

''When we came in this tournament, we had to win games,'' Sexton added.

TAME TIGERS

Auburn spent much of its season either in or around the Top 10 in The Associated Press poll, but the Tigers have encountered shooting slumps at times late in the season. Auburn's underwhelming finish may make them susceptible to an upset in the NCAA Tournament, as Pearl acknowledged postgame.

''We'll see where our draw's going to be, but let's say we're in the 4, 5 area,'' Pearl said. ''I've been a 12 before, and I've beaten the 5. But the most interesting thing about the 5-12 matchups is anything can happen in those matchups.''

UP NEXT

Alabama takes on the winner of Kentucky vs. Georgia in the tournament semifinals Saturday.

Auburn waits to see its postseason fate on Sunday.

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Key Players
Min. Per Game
Pts. Per Game
Ast. Per Game
Reb. Per Game
Field Goal %
Three Point %
Free Throw %
  Defensive rebound by Alex Reese 16.0
  Will Macoy missed 3-pt. jump shot 18.0
  Shot clock violation turnover on Lawson Schaffer 29.0
  Lost ball turnover on Mustapha Heron 1:00
  Traveling violation turnover on Galin Smith 1:06
+ 3 Bryce Brown made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jared Harper 1:25
+ 1 Dazon Ingram made 2nd of 2 free throws 1:34
  Dazon Ingram missed 1st of 2 free throws 1:34
  Shooting foul on Jared Harper 1:34
+ 2 Mustapha Heron made dunk 2:01
  Offensive rebound by Mustapha Heron 2:01
Team Stats
Points 81 63
Field Goals 26-52 (50.0%) 20-62 (32.3%)
3-Pointers 8-22 (36.4%) 8-33 (24.2%)
Free Throws 21-30 (70.0%) 15-22 (68.2%)
Total Rebounds 44 33
Offensive 8 10
Defensive 35 23
Team 1 0
Assists 13 7
Steals 3 7
Blocks 0 4
Turnovers 15 10
Fouls 20 25
Technicals 0 0
31 PTS, 7 REB, 1 AST
18 PTS, 5 REB
12T
away team logo Alabama 19-14 315081
home team logo 16 Auburn 25-7 412263
Team Stats
away team logo Alabama 19-14 72.3 PPG 38.4 RPG 12.7 APG
home team logo 16 Auburn 25-7 81.9 PPG 40.9 RPG 14.1 APG
Key Players
00
C. Sexton G PPG RPG APG FG%
5
M. Heron G 16.4 PPG 5.3 RPG 0.9 APG 43.9 FG%
Top Scorers
C. Sexton G 31 PTS 7 REB 1 AST
M. Heron G 18 PTS 5 REB 0 AST
50.0 FG% 32.3
36.4 3PT FG% 24.2
70.0 FT% 68.2
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
C. Sexton 34 31 7 1 0 0 6 2 10/16 6/8 5/5 2 5
D. Ingram 32 14 7 5 0 0 3 4 4/7 1/2 5/8 1 6
D. Hall 22 11 6 0 0 0 1 2 4/5 0/0 3/3 1 5
G. Smith 22 8 6 0 0 0 1 1 3/3 0/0 2/4 2 4
H. Jones 14 1 2 2 1 0 1 4 0/3 0/1 1/4 0 2
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
C. Sexton 34 31 7 1 0 0 6 2 10/16 6/8 5/5 2 5
D. Ingram 32 14 7 5 0 0 3 4 4/7 1/2 5/8 1 6
D. Hall 22 11 6 0 0 0 1 2 4/5 0/0 3/3 1 5
G. Smith 22 8 6 0 0 0 1 1 3/3 0/0 2/4 2 4
H. Jones 14 1 2 2 1 0 1 4 0/3 0/1 1/4 0 2
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
B. Key 30 9 10 3 2 0 0 4 2/5 0/2 5/6 1 9
J. Petty 31 5 4 2 0 0 1 1 2/10 1/8 0/0 1 3
A. Reese 6 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0 1
A. Johnson Jr. 6 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0/2 0/1 0/0 0 0
L. Schaffer 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0
D. Giddens 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0
A. Davis - - - - - - - - - - - - -
L. Fuller - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Barnes - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 200 81 43 13 3 0 15 20 26/52 8/22 21/30 8 35
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
M. Heron 34 18 5 0 0 0 2 4 6/15 2/4 4/8 2 3
D. Murray 29 15 8 0 0 0 2 3 4/10 3/6 4/4 4 4
B. Brown 30 11 0 0 2 0 2 3 4/12 1/8 2/4 0 0
J. Harper 32 7 6 4 0 0 1 3 2/11 1/7 2/2 2 4
H. Spencer 19 3 6 2 2 3 0 4 1/3 0/0 1/1 1 5
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
M. Heron 34 18 5 0 0 0 2 4 6/15 2/4 4/8 2 3
D. Murray 29 15 8 0 0 0 2 3 4/10 3/6 4/4 4 4
B. Brown 30 11 0 0 2 0 2 3 4/12 1/8 2/4 0 0
J. Harper 32 7 6 4 0 0 1 3 2/11 1/7 2/2 2 4
H. Spencer 19 3 6 2 2 3 0 4 1/3 0/0 1/1 1 5
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
C. Okeke 23 4 4 0 0 1 3 3 1/2 0/1 2/3 1 3
D. Mitchell 18 3 2 1 3 0 0 2 1/4 1/4 0/0 0 2
M. Dunbar 15 2 2 0 0 0 0 3 1/4 0/2 0/0 0 2
W. Macoy - - - - - - - - - - - - -
P. Keim - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Blackstock - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Purifoy - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Williams - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Easterling - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Collier - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 200 63 33 7 7 4 10 25 20/62 8/33 15/22 10 23