EditorsNote: Added info on Kentucky win
Collin Sexton dazzled again, scoring 31 points, and Alabama took a big step toward getting to the NCAA Tournament by rolling over No. 16 Auburn 81-63 Friday in an SEC tournament quarterfinal in St. Louis, Mo.
The Crimson Tide showed up on the wrong side of the bubble in most bracket projections, but have now won two straight, behind Sexton, to get in the NCAA mix.
Alabama advances in the SEC tournament to face Kentucky in the semifinals on Saturday after the Wildcats clamped down on Georgia for a 62-49 win later Friday afternoon.
One day after hitting the game-winner as time expired in Alabama’s win over Texas A&M, Sexton hit six 3-pointers and made multiple highlight-reel plays against Auburn (25-7). On one fast break, he went around his back before dumping off a pass to Donta Hall for a two-handed dunk that put Alabama up 17 in the second half.
Hall finished with 11 points and six rebounds, before leaving the game after taking a nasty fall late in the second half. Dazon Ingram added 14 points for the Crimson Tide (19-14).
Sexton exploded for three quick 3-pointers, as Alabama opened the second half with a 19-1 run to take a 51-42 lead. The Tigers missed their first nine shots of the second half, causing coach Bruce Pearl to call an early timeout.
Alabama’s lead ballooned to 23 with four minutes to play, as Auburn was never able to mount a serious challenge after the early scoring drought.
Alabama didn’t hit its first field goal of the second half until Mustapha Heron finally knocked down a jumper with 9:51 to play.
Heron finished with 18 points, and Desean Murray added 15 points to lead the Tigers, who have lost three of their last four games. They’ll have a chance to rebound in the NCAA Tournament. Auburn is projected as a top-5 seed.
Auburn won a share of the SEC regular-season title for the first time since 1999 and arrived at the conference tournament as the top seed. Early on, the Tigers looked the part. They led for the majority of the first half and were up 41-31 at halftime.
—Field Level Media