AUBURN, Ala. — As the final seconds ticked off the clock in Auburn’s 78-74 win over LSU on Wednesday night, Bruce Pearl didn’t expect to see the lineup he had on the floor.
The head coach could shuffle players and experiment on Saturday, but the goal remains the same: add another win, this time by beating in-state rival Alabama.
Last year the two programs split home wins. Recently, the Crimson Tide have won 6 of their last 7 games and sit only behind Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida in the SEC standings.
Auburn has struggled to a 2-4 conference record without forward Danjel Purifoy. Fortunately, Pearl said there’s a “chance” the freshman could play leading up to this weekend’s game, which might provide a scoring boost. More important than points, however, are the rebounds Purifoy could grab.
Statistically, Alabama is one of the best teams in the SEC defensively and ranks second in the conference in rebounding (42.0 per game).
“No matter what they run you’ve got to prepare to keep them off the glass,” Pearl said. “Then the question comes of tempo. They play at one of the slowest tempos in the country, but that’s because they are very disciplined. They’re disciplined in their halfcourt offense and they’re disciplined in their defense. They make what you do difficult.”
The Crimson Tide’s versatile lineup makes defensive switches easy. To notch a third-straight win Auburn will have to be on its game on both ends of the floor.
“Obviously we’re going to have to execute,” Pearl said. “They’ll turn you over. We’re going to have to take care of the basketball.”
Auburn basketball Saturday
Projected starting 5
* Blocks per game
Auburn vs. Alabama game details, time, TV channel
Alabama (11-6, 4-1 SEC) vs. Auburn (12-6, 2-4 SEC)
Game time: 4 p.m. ET
Where: Auburn Arena, Auburn, Ala.
TV: SEC Network
How to watch online: SECNetwork.com
Follow live stats: GameTracker