During Auburn’s 14-game, two-month long winning streak, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl constantly cautioned that his team’s streak would end.
The streak ended Wednesday night as archrival Alabama knocked off No. 17 Auburn 76-71.
"We did not play well," Pearl said. "We did not execute offensively. We kind of slopped through our stuff.”
Auburn, which trailed by as many as 13 in the second half, cut the deficit to six with 2:46 to play. Auburn point guard Jared Harper had an opportunity to cut the lead to four at the free-throw line at the 2:07 mark, but missed both free throws, giving Alabama breathing room.
Missed free throws became a theme for Auburn, as the Tigers missed six key free throws in the final 2:07.
The Tigers, who entered the night shooting a SEC-leading 77.9 percent from the free-throw line as a team, finished 14-of-22 (63.6 percent) from the charity stripe.
The story of the night, however, was Alabama freshman John Petty, who totaled 27 points on 9-of-14 shooting, which included 8-of-13 from three-point range.
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"When I hit about four or five, I'm fully in the zone," Petty said. "That's when it starts to feel good. So I just keep shooting."
The freshman scored 18 points in the second half, making six of his eight shots.
"We did not execute our game plan at all against him defensively," Pearl said. "He made shots but how many times did we make him put the ball on the floor?"
Alabama, which trailed 33-30 at halftime, used a 13-4 run out of the half to take a lead they would never lose.
Trailing 74-71 with 5.2 seconds remaining, Auburn had an opportunity to tie the game with a three, but turned it over in front of the Auburn bench as Bryce Brown stepped out of bounds.
“I was really upset on that last possession in a three-point game,” Pearl said on Auburn’s postgame radio broadcast. “We had something to get Bryce a shot, and we didn’t execute it. And I was furious, because went out on our own, on our own page, and as a result, it cost us.”
Auburn shot just 39 percent (24-of-61) from the field compared to Alabama’s 49 percent (25-of-51). The Crimson Tide out-rebounded Auburn 37-35.
Alabama’s leading scorer Collin Sexton missed the game due to an abdominal injury, but Petty’s hot-shooting night gave the Crimson Tide the lift they would need.
"We didn't take advantage of the opportunity with Collin Sexton out," Pearl said. "We did not play well. Way too many times we came down and didn't execute."
Dazon Ingram scored 16 points, 10 of which came from the free-throw line, for the Crimson Tide, who moved to 12-6 overall and 4-2 in the SEC.
Herbert Jones finished with 11 points and seven rebounds for Alabama.
Auburn, which fell to 16-2 and 4-1 in the SEC, was led by Brown, who finished with 12 points, but only three in the second half.
Desean Murray scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Tigers to join Jared Harper and Chuma Okeke in double-figures, who both finished with 10 points apiece.
“The loss, we don’t want to make more of it than we need to, but it’s a grind,” Pearl said. “But we’re absolutely going to feel a tremendous missed opportunity here.”
Auburn will return to action Saturday night as its hosts Georgia. Tip-off inside Auburn Arena is set for 5 p.m. and can be seen on the SEC Network.
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