TUSCALOOSA, AL – Nate Oats and Alabama had two achievements to celebrate: a huge win and knocking rival Auburn from the dwindling ranks of the unbeaten.
Kira Lewis Jr. scored 25 points and the Crimson Tide easily handled the fourth-ranked Tigers with an 83-64 rout on Wednesday night.
“We’ve been needing this signature win," said Oats, the Tide's first-year coach. “We were close a few times. If we’re going to make a run and try to play in the NCAA Tournament, you’ve got to get these signature wins.
“It's good to get that monkey off our back."
All the better when it comes against your much-hyped in-state rival.
The Crimson Tide (9-7, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) led wire-to-wire. The Tigers (15-1, 3-1) had a miserable shooting night and left No. 7 San Diego State (18-0) as the nation's last unbeaten team.
“To be able to beat a good team in Alabama on their floor you’ve got to be very good, and we didn’t even come close,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.
It was the Tide's first win over a Top 5 team since a 79-57 home defeat of then-No. 5 Texas A&M on Dec. 30, 2017. This one was largely one-sided, too.