146th Iron Bowl of Hoops: Alabama travels to take on Auburn

© Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said he expects an emotional atmosphere at Auburn Arena Wednesday night. (

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The Alabama men's basketball team will be on the road for the third time in its last four games when it travels to take on rival Auburn on Wednesday night.

"Well obviously we're looking forward to the challenge of going on the road here and playing Auburn," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "As we all know, it's a rivalry game with a lot of emotion. We expect a great game with a great atmosphere. I think our guys are excited about the opportunity to get back and compete again."

The Crimson Tide (14-7, 6-2 SEC) enters the game in a three-way tie for second overall in the latest SEC standings after a thrilling 58-54 come-from-behind win at Vanderbilt. The win not only marked the Tide's sixth triumph in its last seven contests, but was also the first win over the Commodores in Memorial Gym since Feb. 3, 1990 (11 games).

UA was led by sophomore guard Trevor Lacey who had a game-high 17 points, including the game-winning three-pointer with 56.8 seconds remaining - his third game-winner of the season. Senior guard Andrew Steele added 13 points off the bench, while sophomore guard Rodney Cooper added 11 points and seven rebounds in the winning effort.

Junior guard Trevor Releford comes into the Auburn game as the team's top scorer. A preseason All-SEC honoree, Releford leads the team and ranks eighth in the league with 15.3 points per game. He also tops the squad in three-point shooting percentage (44.1 percent) and steals per game (1.9). He currently ranks second in the SEC in free throw shooting (85.7 percent) and is sixth in steals per game.

Lacey is second on the team in scoring with 12.4 points per game and three-point field goal percentage, hitting 43.2 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. Coming into Wednesday's contest, Lacey tops the team in three pointers made (41) and attempted (96) and assists (3.5 apg). Combined, the duo of Releford and Lacey contribute 27.7 points per game, or approximately 43 percent of the team's 63.9 points per game.

Meanwhile, Cooper also averages double figures with 10.7 ppg. He leads the team in offensive rebounding (2.1 orpg) and ranks second in rebounding (4.2 rpg) and total field goals attempted (199).

Auburn comes into Wednesday's showdown sporting an 8-13 overall mark and a 2-6 record in SEC play. After opening the conference season with a 2-0 mark, the Tigers have lost six consecutive contests, most recently dropping a 91-77 decision at then-No. 17 Missouri on Saturday.

The Tigers are led on the year by senior guard Frankie Sullivan, who tops the team and ranks fourth in the SEC in scoring average at 16.5 points per game. He also ranks eighth in the SEC in three pointers made per game (2.0) and field goal percentage (.390).

Junior guard Chris Denson is the only other player on AU's squad to average double figures, with 11.7 ppg. Senior center Rob Chubb is averaging nearly a double-double with 9.6 points and a team-leading 7.5 rebounds a contest.

As a team, Auburn is shooting 41.6 percent (12th in SEC) from the floor and 33.3 percent (9th in SEC) from beyond the arc, while averaging 67.6 points per game (8th in SEC). Defensively, the Tigers are allowing teams to shoot 42.9 percent (13th in SEC) from the field, 33.6 percent (12th in SEC) from three and giving up 67.8 points per contest (11th).

Wednesday's game will mark the 146th meeting on the hardwood between the two schools, which is the fourth-most games UA has played against any one opponent. The Crimson Tide owns an 89-56 edge in the series and has won five straight games over the Tigers. Head coach Anthony Grant has an all-time record of 5-1 when his team has faced the Tigers, including a 2-1 mark when playing at Auburn.

The contest is set to tipoff at 7 p.m. and will be televised on the SEC Network. The game can also be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network 94.5 FM, with Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink on the call.

Fans can follow the in-game action with live tweets on the team's official Twitter page @AlabamaMBB.


Head Coach Anthony Grant

On how the team is handling success:

"We're doing ok. It's February. I think our guys understand, hopefully understand, the sense of urgency that we have to have in preparation for every game. Our focus is to take it one game at a time and continue to control what we can control. The last couple of games, the thing I've been pleased with is our guys have found a way to win. I think I'm always going to be looking at areas that we can improve and things that we can do better, but the fight that we've shown has been good. We need to continue that and continue to get better and improve as we go through the season."

On Auburn senior guard Frankie Sullivan:

"He is a very talented player, veteran guy. He's been around the league and seen it all. He's having an outstanding year for them, leads just about every offensive category and has great leadership qualities. He's a very good player."

On Alabama's slow starts and playing better when their backs are against the wall:

"Well it's not by design. I like to play with the lead, to be honest with you. Like Levi (Randolph) said, it's going to be a 40 minute game. You can never get too high, you can never get too low. We've had several games where we started off well where we've been able to build a lead and then had lulls at the end of the half. The whole thing is consistency, which I think every coach will tell you that's what they want. I think when our guys are playing at their best from an offensive and defensive standpoint we have a chance to be a very good basketball team. We just have to find that consistency at both ends of the floor."

Sophomore Guard Levi Randolph

On what the rivalry means to him:

"Well it's a big in-state rivalry. This is my second year going through it. I know we try to take every game as a big game, so we just have to go out there and do the things that coach asks us to do and play the game. I always knew that Alabama-Auburn was a big rivalry and I grew up (in Madison, Ala.) watching the football and basketball games, so I did pay attention to it."

On the toughness of Auburn's arena with the student section near the court:

"I remember playing there last year and the student section was really close. It's really loud and a great environment to play in, but we've played in a lot of environments like that so I think we're prepared and it's something we've been through before."

Auburn Projected StartersF02Allen Payne6-6 / 215Jr.C41Rob Chubb6-10 / 250Sr.G5Shaquille Johnson6-5 / 210Fr.G11Josh Wallace5-10 / 170Sr.G23Frankie Sullivan6-1 / 206Sr.Alabama Projected StartersC14Moussa Gueye7-0 / 255Jr.G5Trevor Lacey6-3 / 215So.G12Trevor Releford6-0 / 195Jr.G20Levi Randolph6-5 / 205So.G21Rodney Cooper6-6 / 215So.Gameday Matchup {}ALAAUB W-L14-78-13Avg Points63.967.6Avg Points Allowed58.367.8Home Record9-36-5Road Record3-41-6Current StreakW2L6Team Stat Leaders {}ALAAUB PointsT. Releford 15.3F. Sullivan 16.5ReboundsM. Gueye 4.3R. Chubb 7.5AssistsT. Lacey 3.5J. Wallace 3.2StealsT. Releford 1.9J. Wallace 1.4BlocksM. Gueye 1.6A. Dixon-Tatum 1.1