Alabama's superior talent and depth finally quiets Auburn's Jungle
Turns out the first Iron Bowl of Basketball 2023 did not live up to its January hype as one of the bigger regular-season games in state history. Blame it on one of the better teams this state has ever seen.
Sorry, Auburn. Alabama was inevitable, per usual. Just not in the usual way.
Despite the visit from ESPN's College GameDay and the presence of an especially energetic Jungle, the Auburn hometown highlight Saturday was, of all things, a golf moment. A student who didn't own a car sank a full-court putt to win a set of wheels.
The joint was jumping then, and even Bruce Pearl had to step out of the timeout huddle to smile. Here were his offensively challenged Tigers, living at the free-throw line, playing in front most of the way, keeping hope alive. It was fun while it lasted, but it wouldn't last. Eventually, even the most thirst-quenching mirage evaporates in the face of superior skill.
Talent travels. Talent reinforced with toughness rises, and that is as good an explanation as any of No. 3 Alabama 77, unranked Auburn 69.
As the visitors eventually seized, secured and stretched the lead over the final six minutes, they turned the Jungle into a petting zoo. Inside the final 2 ½ minutes, the Tigers never had the ball with a chance to tie, let alone take back the lead. The locals had to welcome a merciful end to one of the dreariest days in the Loveliest Village in the sport that's sustained them for years.
Instead of a court storm, they left us with a collective court sigh. In the Jungle. The quiet Jungle.
Read Kevin's entire live report from the scene of the first 2023 IBOB. Only in The Lede.