Auburn makes Alabama work overtime to earn that title
This is a basketball column, nothing more, nothing less, because this game, more than any other game this season, deserves it. Alabama 90, Auburn 85 left both teams with nothing more to give. For 45 minutes, they took turns being nothing short of magnificent.
This is a basketball column because this is the way the game should be played when the rivals that have owned the SEC for the last three years come together for an epic struggle on the first day of March. There was elation and dejection with ejections in both directions. It was loud and it was hot and it took everyone in the building in crimson to chase down and finally put down the visitors.
Alabama earned every one of those championship hats and T-shirts, every trip up that ladder with a pair of scissors at the end. Auburn made sure of it.
This is a basketball column because this is a basketball state, and the two biggest kids on the block keep pushing each other higher and pulling the best out of one another. The two programs combining to win three straight SEC championships while ascending to No. 1 in the country in successive seasons is unprecedented.
Wednesday would have been the pinnacle if both teams had been at the peak of their powers, but that will be a dream deferred. Just as 2021 Alabama and 2022 Auburn established and maintained their dominance, of each other and everyone else in the conference, 2023 Alabama has been without peer.
Except in their first meeting in Auburn, when the game was tied at halftime and Alabama led only by two with 3 ½ minutes left. The offensively challenged underdog Tigers were even bigger overachievers in Coleman Coliseum, building a 17-point lead with 9 ½ minutes to play.
For most teams in most places on most nights, that is a bridge too far. For this Alabama team in this house on this night, it was a summons to excellence all around, from underappreciated starters to patient stars who've learned to wait their turn on the bench. ...
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