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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn still eyeing first conference win in matchup against Alabama

AICHA COULIBALY shoots a basket in the first half.
Auburn vs Florida
SEC Women's Basketball Tournament on Wednesday, March 3, 2020 in Greenville, SC.
Todd Van Emst/SEC
AICHA COULIBALY shoots a basket in the first half. Auburn vs Florida SEC Women's Basketball Tournament on Wednesday, March 3, 2020 in Greenville, SC. Todd Van Emst/SEC

After a successful start to the season during the non-conference schedule, Auburn is yet to find its first SEC win of the season. Starting 10-2, the Tigers have lost three straight — failing to score above 60 points in all of those games.

Auburn was beaten soundly by South Carolina in its last matchup, 94-42, but returns home Sunday to face the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Alabama head coach Kristy Curry and her squad have had a similar season as Auburn thus far as the two teams sit early in the conference schedule. Alabama was 11-2 before conference play began and was riding a nine-game winning streak. The Crimson Tide prolonged that winning streak by defeating Georgia in their first SEC game but have dropped back-to-back games since — a 13-point loss to Tennessee and a heartbreaker to Missouri.

For Auburn to grab its first conference win of the season, the Tigers' defense must find a way to slow down Alabama's star guard Brittany Davis. The graduate student from Gulf Coast State College has terrorized opposing defenses all season and sits third in the SEC in points per game at 17.4 while shooting an efficient 44.5% from the field and 35.9% from the three-point line. Davis is the lone player for Alabama scoring double-digit points per game and nearly doubles the next leading scorer's offensive output of 8.8 points per game.

Davis' danger not only resides in her scoring, however. She leads the team in rebounds as she grabs 6.7 per game and also is a force defensively — recording 1.7 steals per game.

While Davis' scoring ranks near the top of the conference, Alabama's scoring as a team has been average as the Crimson Tide rank seventh in the SEC at 73.3 points per game. However, the Crimson Tide are a very dangerous threat from beyond the three-point line. Curry's squad leads the SEC in three pointers made each game (9.6) and three-point percentage (38.2%).

Auburn has been scrappy defensively all season as it ranks fifth in the conference in steals and might rely on that tenacious defense to make life difficult for Alabama on the perimeter.

On defense, Alabama is anchored by one of the best shot blockers in the SEC. Jada Rice, a 6-foot-4 center, rejects 2.6 shots per game which is tied for first in the conference. Her defensive performances combined with a team that is overall sound on defense has seen Alabama produce a few incredible games defensively.

The Crimson Tide have held opponents under 50 points five times this season and even held Norfolk State to 30 points and North Florida to 25 in matchups in December. However, in its losses Alabama has been prone to giving up a lot of points. In the team's second loss of the season, the Crimson Tide allowed Utah to score 93 points in the Utes' win, and Alabama surrendered 89 points to Tennessee last week.

Auburn has been inconsistent in its scoring this season and with Honesty Scott-Grayson's status unknown as she deals with an injury, Auburn's defense might have to step up Sunday afternoon for the Tigers to clinch their first conference win of the season.

The game tips-off at 4 p.m. CST at Neville Arena and will be broadcast on SEC Network.

Jacob Waters | Sports Reporter

Jacob is a sophomore from Leeds, Alabama. This is his second year with The Auburn Plainsman. 

Twitter: @JacobWaters_

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