AUBURN----Tay Waller scored a game-high 20 points and Lucas Hargrove made the game-winning free throw with 3.1 seconds left to give Auburn a 58-57 victory over Alabama in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. It was the Tigers' sixth win in the last seven games against the Crimson Tide.
DeWayne Reed set up Hargrove's free throw when he stole the ball from Mikhail Torrance just shy of midcourt with 5 seconds left. Hargrove missed the second free throw and Alabama called time out with 2.6 seconds left.
"We dug down deep and played aggressive," said Frankie Sullivan. "DeWayne Reed made a gutsy play by trying to steal the ball at halfcourt. Any other time, Coach Lebo would have gone crazy, but he got the steal."
On the in-bounds play, Tony Mitchell threw the ball three-quarters of the court to Justin Knox just beyond the foul line. After Knox caught it, Sullivan knocked the ball away as time ran out.
"We thought they were going to Mikhail Torrance for the shot," said Sullivan. "He had been killing us all game, but they went for the long ball. I took a gamble by trying to steal the ball without getting a foul."
Alabama (13-8, 3-4) took its largest lead of the game at 40-33 on a Torrance jumper with 13:30 remaining, but Auburn (11-11, 2-5) scored 10 straight points to regain the lead at 43-40, capped on a Waller steal and dunk with 9:35 to play. The lead by either team never was greater than four points the rest of the way as there were five ties and four lead changes.
Torrance's layup gave the Crimson Tide a 57-53 lead with 2:22 remaining, but Alabama wouldn't score again. Hargrove's conventional 3-point play drew the Tigers to within 57-56 with 2:02 left, and it stayed that way until Reed split a pair of free throws with 12 seconds to go to tie it and set up the final second heroics.
Reed's free throw came after Torrance, the SEC's leading free throw shooter at 86.2 percent, missed the front end of a one-and-one with 22 seconds left and the Tide up by one.
"I'm awfully proud of my team and how we defended so well in this game for 40 minutes," said Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "We found a way to gut it out, get some stops and make some plays and win the game. We found ways to lose games in the last five or six minutes of the game, so it's nice for the kids to find a way to win a game."
Alabama didn't score its first points of the game until a Justin Knox layup almost five minutes in. The Crimson Tide took its first lead at 12-11 halfway through the first half, and then either team's lead was never above three points for the remainder of the opening 20 minutes as Alabama went into the locker room leading 27-24.
For the Tigers, Hargrove had 14 points and Reed 10 while Torrance led the Crimson Tide with 13 points while JaMychal Green and Senario Hillman had 10 points apiece. Green, Alabama's 6-foo-9 forward, fouled out with 4:25 remaining while Auburn's 6-foot-10 center Brendon Knox fouled out with 3:30 remaining, with four points in only 19 minutes of play.
Auburn and Alabama shot nearly identical in both halves as the Tigers shot 34.8 percent and 50.0 percent for a 42.6 percent total for the game while the Crimson Tide shot 34.5 percent and 50.0 percent for a total of 41.2 percent. Auburn made only 15-of-25 foul shots while Alabama went 11-of-15. The Tide outrebounded Auburn 33-29.
Auburn doesn't play again until next Saturday at Arkansas in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville at 12:47 pm Central.