AUBURN, Ala. – The SEC’s only unbeaten team at home, No. 12 Auburn received 50 points from Jaylin Williams and Johni Broome to trounce No. 16 Alabama 99-81 Wednesday at Neville Arena, positioning the Tigers in first place in the conference standings.
Williams scored a career-high 26 points and Broome added 24. Tre Donaldson scored 14 and Chad Baker-Mazara added 13 to help Auburn improve to 12-0 at Neville Arena and 8-2 in SEC play. The Tigers joined Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee in a crowded first-place tie with eight conference games remaining.
“We put ourselves in position where we’re still in it,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “We had an advantage on the inside with Jaylin Williams and Johni Broome. Defensively, I thought the kids did a phenomenal job with a very difficult scout. I thought our coaches did an outstanding job in the preparation. This game matters.”
After camping overnight outside Neville Arena to assure their place in The Jungle, Auburn University students were in no hurry to depart after the game, serenading the visitors with a “Reverse Rammer Jammer” chorus and chanting “We love Bruce!” as Auburn’s head coach conducted a postgame interview on ESPN2.
“The crowd was amazing,” Pearl said. “The environment was tremendous. ESPN goes to a lot of great buildings and a lot of sellout crowds. This place is different.”
Auburn shot a whopping 50 free throws, making a program-record 40. Williams, Broome and Baker-Mazara combined to shoot 26-of-32 from the line. Auburn committed only five turnovers while forcing 15.
“The fact that we turned the ball over only five times was really important,” Pearl said. “We were pounding the ball inside and they were fouling us. Both teams played hard and physically.”
Williams and Broome combined for 31 first-half points to give the Tigers a 14-point halftime lead, helping Auburn amass a 26-12 advantage in points in the paint.
“I knew they were going to try to play smaller,” Williams said. “I knew I had to be patient and be more aggressive inside. Being patient inside, that’s our game.”
“Jaylin is great with his back to the basket,” Pearl said. “They were both able to score through contact. They’re both unique because we were able to switch and guard Alabama’s guards with our bigs. I think we have one of the better frontlines in our league. I think Jaylin Williams and Johni Broome could get some discussions about frontlines in the country right now.”
Auburn made nine steals among 10 first-half Alabama turnovers, cashing in for a 15-2 lead in points off turnovers by committing only one in the half.
After Alabama erased Auburn’s early 14-point lead, the Tigers built another one at the end of the half by making their final five shots, punctuated by Williams’ windmill dunk.
K.D. Johnson ended the half by locking up the SEC’s leading scorer, preventing Mark Sears from attempting a shot as the clock expired and the crowd erupted in approval.
Auburn blocked 11 shots and made 13 steals.
“That shows our rim protection,” said Broome, who led Auburn with seven rebounds and five blocked shots. “When you have 11 blocked shots, you win the rebounding margin (42-35) and have less turnovers, it’s hard to lose.
“That was a must-win. Our goal is to win the SEC. That was big that we were able to split with them. We’ve got to keep it going.”
Sears compiled 25 points, nine rebounds and four assists for Alabama (16-7, 8-2).
Auburn (19-4, 8-2) travels to Gainesville, Florida, Saturday to play the Gators at 2:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network.
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer
ALABAMA POSTGAME NOTES
» With the win, Auburn leads the series 34-29 in games played in Auburn including an 8-5 advantage at Neville Arena. Head Coach Bruce Pearl is now 6-3 against the Crimson Tide at Neville Arena. Alabama leads the all-time series, 102-66.
» Auburn is now 2-0 in ranked matchups (No. 12 vs. No. 16) versus Alabama under Coach Pearl. The No. 4-ranked Tigers defeated No. 24 Alabama, 81-77, in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 11, 2022.
» The Tigers improved to 19-4 overall and 8-2 in Southeastern Conference play. Auburn matched the 1999-00 squad for the fourth-best 23-game start in program history. It was the third time in the last seven seasons Auburn has won at least 19 of its first 23 games. Auburn opened the 1998-99 season 22-1 and started 21-2 in 2019-20 and 2017-18. The Tigers are now tied with Alabama and South Carolina for first place in the SEC.
» Tonight was the 51st consecutive sellout at Neville Arena (9,121).
» AU’s 99 points were the most points the Tigers have scored in a SEC game since scoring 100 points against Alabama in Neville Arena in 2022 – tied for their fourth-most ever against Alabama.
» Auburn, which led 55-41 at halftime, improved to 18-1 this season when leading at halftime after setting a season high for first-half points on Wednesday night. The Tigers shot 19-of-36 from the floor, 4-of-11 from deep and 10-of-13 from the free-throw line before halftime. The Tigers committed only one turnover in the first half. It was the fourth time this season the Tigers have scored at least 50 points in the first half including twice in SEC play – 52 points versus Indiana and 51 against both Penn and LSU.
» Auburn finished the game with only five turnovers, which was the second fewest for the Tigers this season behind their school record three turnovers against Indiana. It was the ninth time this season the Tigers have committed single-digit turnovers.
» The Tigers shot 40-of-50 from the free throw line, setting a new school record for made free throws in a game. They broke the old mark of 39 free throws made against Mississippi State in 1959. Auburn’s 50 attempts were the most under Pearl, topping its 46 free-throw attempts at Missouri in 2020.
» Auburn outscored Alabama, 40-26, in the paint – the 21st time in 23 games this season the Tigers have outscored an opponent in the paint. It was the 10th time Auburn has scored 40 paint points this season including the fourth time in SEC play. It was also the second-straight game after scoring 44 points in the paint at Ole Miss on Saturday.
» AU outrebounded Alabama, 42-35. The Tigers are 13-1 when outrebounding an opponent this season including 5-0 in SEC play.
» Auburn scored 22 points off 15 Alabama turnovers. It was the ninth time the Tigers have forced at least 15 turnovers in a game this season including the fourth time in SEC play. It was the sixth time this season Auburn has scored 20 points off an opponent’s turnovers including the third time in SEC play.
» Auburn matched its season high from the LSU game with 26 fast-break points against Alabama.
» Auburn outscored Alabama, 31-8, in bench points. The Tigers’ reserves have outscored their opponent’s bench in all but one game this season including the last 16 games. They are 19-3 when scoring more bench points than an opponent. It was the ninth time Auburn has outscored an opponent by at least 20 bench points on the year.
» Auburn blocked a season-high 12 shots on the night, which is the 15th straight game the Tigers have blocked 5+ shots, which is the Tigers’ longest streak since a 17-game stretch during the 2021-22 season. In two games against Alabama this season, the Tigers have averaged 11.0 blocks. Auburn’s previous season high was 10 blocks against Baylor and Alabama.
» Auburn placed four players in double figures led by a career-high 26 points from Jaylin Williams, who went 8-of-13 from the floor, including one 3-pointer, and a career-high nine made free throws on a career-high-tying 10 attempts. It was Williams’ seventh 20-point game of the season and the 11th of his career. He added six rebounds, two blocks, one assist and one steal in the win. Auburn improved to 13-0 on the season when Williams scores at least 10 points.
» Johni Broome recorded his 14th straight game in double figures with 24 points on 7-of-16 field goals, including one 3-pointer, and a career-high-tying nine made free throws on 11 attempts. Broome added a team-high seven rebounds, a game-high five blocks, two assists and two steals on the night. He has made 133 blocks in his Auburn career, which is tied with Pat Burke for ninth in program history. In two games against Alabama this season, Broome has averaged 24.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 5.0 blocks and shot 18-of-33 from the floor and 11-of-13 from the foul line.
» Tre Donaldson scored an SEC-career high 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. He added six rebounds, four assists and one steal in the win. It was Donaldson’s second-straight game in double figures during which he is averaging 12.0 points and 5.0 assists. He has averaged 6.5 rebounds in Auburn’s last two home games after pulling down seven boards against Vanderbilt last Wednesday at Neville Arena.
» Chad Baker-Mazara added 13 points on 2-of-5 shooting from the floor, including one 3-pointer, and 8-of-11 from the free-throw line. Baker-Mazara added six rebounds, two assists and a steal on the night. It was his 12th game in double figures including six in SEC play. He scored in double figures in both games against Alabama this season, averaging 12.0 points against the Crimson Tide on the year.
» Aden Holloway made his 43rd 3-pointer of the season, which ties Tahj Shamsid-Deen for 10th among freshmen in program history.
» A combined 68 fouls were called in the game – Auburn (28) and Alabama (33) – the most in an Auburn game this season ahead of the previous season high of 54 versus No. 17-ranked Baylor in the season opener.
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