AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — The Auburn Tigers fell from the Top 25, then started playing like they belonged again.
Bryce Brown scored 23 points, Jared Harper had 19 and Auburn beat rival Alabama 84-63 on Saturday night to punctuate a big week.
The Tigers (15-6, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) picked up their second straight lopsided win after dropping from the Top 25 for the first time this season.
“I kind of feel like that wasn’t a bad thing,” Brown said. “I feel like we got that chip back on our shoulder a little bit. It kind of was a wake up call for us. It was just time to wake up and play ball again.”
Once again, they did it with a 3-point barrage, this time making 13 of 22 from long range against the Crimson Tide (13-8, 4-4).
Auburn’s two biggest stars accounted for half of the team’s points.
Brown made five 3-pointers on just seven attempts and Harper added three, including one from the AU logo well beyond the arc in the first half. Harper also had five assists and Anfernee McLemore scored 10.
“That’s the closest we’ve looked to the kind of Auburn basketball that I like to see,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.
John Petty led Alabama with 18 points, with Kira Lewis Jr. adding 13. Donta Hall had eight points and 10 rebounds but Alabama committed 21 turnovers.
“They played an extremely great game tonight on both ends of the floor,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “They had more energy, they outhustled us. They just did a great job. We didn’t have our best game. We got off to a decent start but they got us with their transition offense (and) obviously their 3-point shooting.”
The Tide, which has lost four straight at Auburn Arena, mustered only a brief second-half challenge.
Alabama cut a 20-point halftime deficit down to 11 midway through the half. Then Harper hit a 3-pointer and drew the foul for a 4-point play and Malik Dunbar followed with a fast-break dunk to waylay the comeback attempt.
Auburn had separate runs of 21-2 and 17-0 in the first half. The Tigers took a 48-28 lead into the locker room.
“It’s a tough building to play in,” Petty said. “We had a bunch of defensive lapses, a bunch of defensive errors that can be fixed and will be fixed.”
Auburn center Austin Wiley missed his fifth straight game with a lower right leg injury. He didn’t dress for the game.
Alabama: Couldn’t take advantage of Wiley’s absence inside with Hall attempting only three shots and making all of them. Just 2-5 on the road this season.
Auburn: Made a case this week to get back into the Top 25 with this win and a 92-58 blowout of Missouri after launching 41 3-point attempts. Looked more like the team that spent six weeks in the Top 10.
Auburn filled up the arena with fans mostly wearing orange T-shirts, and Petty noticed. The Alabama guard says the Tigers have “some of the best fans probably in the NCAA.”
Added Harper: “The atmosphere was great tonight.”
Auburn allowed just an average of 60.5 points in the past two games after struggling defensively during the three-game skid.
“Just locking in every single possession on defense, that’s what we have to do to be able to win,” Harper said. “That’s what we did last year to win the SEC championship so that’s what we have to continue to do this year.”
Alabama hosts Georgia Wednesday night.
Auburn hosts Florida Tuesday night.
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