Alabama’s players jumped for joy near midcourt, their coach stomping her feet in excitement over the Auburn Arena floor.
That’s when Auburn’s struggles this season hit a new low.
Alabama drilled Auburn 75-48 on Sunday to keep Auburn winless in SEC play, that celebration for Alabama coming when Alabama went up 20 in the third quarter, after a timeout following another in a seemingly endless barrage of 3-pointers by the Tide.
Auburn played near its worst as Alabama caught hot in what looked like a perfect-storm disaster for Auburn.
Auburn fell to 6-9 on the season and 0-4 in the conference.
Auburn led 20-14 at the end of the first quarter, but when Auburn’s shots stopped falling — and Alabama’s did — Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said she saw a snowball effect avalanche over her young team.
“We came out hard. We started the game playing well. And because shots stopped falling, we lost our intensity,” she said.
After some missed shots, Auburn lost confidence, she said, and after opening the window for the visitors, Alabama took full advantage. Alabama drilled eight 3-pointers in the third quarter as it pulled away. The Tide charged back from that first-quarter deficit to make it 33-26 at the half, and then opened the second half on a 13-0 run.
Alabama’s Cierra Johnson made that aforementioned 3-ball to make it 46-26 in the third quarter, before Brittany Davis drilled another to make it 49-26 with four minutes left in the frame to cap that run.
Auburn played without star senior guard Daisa Alexander, out for the a second consecutive game after suffering an ankle injury against Arkansas. Junior Unique Thompson led Auburn with 16 points in the losing effort.
But Auburn’s first home loss to Alabama since 2017 marked a learning experience for the team’s younger players, who Williams-Flournoy said struggled in the face of adversity once things started going Alabama’s way on Sunday.
“I thought we played with great intensity and great effort, but they had a little bit more pep in their step when they hit a shot,” Williams-Flournoy said of her players. “When they missed a shot or turned the ball over, the head goes down, the sprint back for transition defense isn’t as fast as it needs to be. And that right there is just a little bit of maturity with a young team.
“You can’t put your head down just because you missed a shot or you turned the ball over. It’s going to happen.”
Those problems, she said, started with familiar struggles this season on the defensive end. Mistakes in the backcourt compounded as Alabama went on to drain 11 3-pointers.
“They got wide-open 3’s because we didn’t contain the ball in front of us,” Williams-Flournoy said. “Help had to come over on the penetration and then they kicked to their shooter who knocked the shot down.”
Last year, Auburn blasted Alabama 77-38 on the Plains on the way to sweeping three games against Alabama last season.
The roles were reversed Sunday.
Auburn is going to seek another reversal in fortune fast. But the Tigers are going to stay their course.
Auburn has a week off before playing another rival Georgia next Sunday on the road.
“You can never panic. I’ve been a head coach for too long,” Williams-Flournoy said. “I know what we do works. You look at our team: We have one senior, who’s out, and you have one junior, trying to lead a bunch of freshmen and sophomores. It takes some time.
“Every year you may have a down year. It could just depend on, you lose your star player, injuries, whatever it is. But what you don’t do is hit the panic button or stand on the roof about to jump off because the world is coming to an end. You don’t.”