Thursday, January 21, 2016
AUBURN, Ala. An overflow crowd wanted to see what the hubbub was all about.
Auburn again didn't disappoint.
The Tigers, fresh off their first win over Kentucky since 2000, beat Alabama 83-77 in front of excited 9,122 fans, or more, in Auburn Arena on Tuesday night. Like the Kentucky win, it came down to the final minute.
"The building was incredible," said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. "This is as good an environment as there is in college basketball. Who wouldn't want to play in that game in front of that intensity?
"From what I understand, we might have had close to 3,000 students in the building tonight, thousands of students upstairs because everything was full downstairs. It elevated our play."
Auburn will try to carry that momentum to Saturday's 7 p.m. game at Florida in a game on the SEC Network. The Tigers are 2-6 away from Auburn Arena. But are rocking along at 7-2 at home.
It's the first time Auburn has beaten Kentucky and Alabama in consecutive games since 1967 and only the third time it has happened in the Tigers' 110 years of basketball.
It was also the seventh sellout in the Auburn Arena since Pearl was hired before last season. The Tigers had five sellouts in the four years of Auburn Arena before he arrived. Auburn is averaging 8,442 fans this season, or 92.6 percent of capacity.
Tuesday was the first meeting between Pearl and new Alabama coach Avery Johnson. This rivalry game wasn't decided until the final minute.
"I think Coach Johnson and I envision these atmospheres for our games, and we try to get our programs to the point where CBS and ESPN want to come in here and look at this," Pearl said.
They'll renew their rivalry Feb. 27 in Tuscaloosa.