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Green's tip-in lifts Alabama past Auburn 51-49

By John Zenor

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 23 2011 9:25 p.m. MST

Alabama coach Anthony Grant, center front, watches his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Auburn at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011.

The Tuscaloosa News, Robert Sutton, Associated Press

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — JaMychal Green scored on a tip-in with .3 seconds left to lift Alabama to a 51-49, come-from-behind victory over rival Auburn on Wednesday night.

Tony Mitchell drove to the basket and missed but Green sailed through the lane to make the game-winner for the Crimson Tide (19-8, 11-2 Southeastern Conference), which had trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half.

Auburn (9-18, 2-11), which had four players foul out, tied it on Tony Neysmith's driving bank shot with 13 seconds to play.

Alabama overcame a nearly game-long offensive funk and season-low 26.2-percent shooting performance to move to 15-0 at home and avoid absorbing a big blow to its hopes of receiving an NCAA tournament at-large bid.

The Tide closed the game on a 17-6 run after enduring long field goal droughts to start both halves. Auburn finished with one of its own, going nine minutes without a basket down the stretch.

The Tigers scored only eight points after going up by 12 in the first 8 minutes of the second half.

Alabama completed the series sweep and has its best SEC record at this point since also starting out 11-2 during the 1986-87 season. The Tide has already clinched the Western Division title and entered the game tied atop the league standings with No. 13 Florida, which plays Georgia Thursday night.

Green had 17 points and four blocked shots for the Tide. He attempted 14 of Alabama's 40 free throws, making nine.

No other Tide player reached double digits. Leading scorer Tony Mitchell made 1 of 7 field goals and had eight points, half his season average.

Earnest Ross led Auburn with 10 points, but the Tigers' top scoring threat spent the final four minutes on the bench with five fouls. He fouled out trying to get the ball back after a steal by Andrew Steele.

The rivalry game was intense but sloppy. The teams combined for 42 turnovers and 47 fouls and only nine assists. Alabama made just 11 of 42 baskets.

Green had chances to avoid the last-second drama but made just half of his six free throw attempts over the final 2:54. But his first trip to the line during that stretch capped a 10-0 run and gave Alabama its first lead of the game, 44-43.

The Tigers snapped a 9-minute drought without a field goal on Neysmith's answering bank, but the Tigers couldn't retake the lead they had held most of the game.

Auburn shot 56.5 percent (13 of 23) in the first half against a team that ranks third nationally in field-goal percentage defense.

Then the Tigers cooled off with a 5-for-19 (26.3 percent) second-half performance.

Auburn had stunned the Coleman Coliseum crowd by taking control from the outset. The Tigers went up by double digits in the opening minutes then went on a 17-2 run to build a 31-16 lead with 2:55 left in the first half. It was Alabama's largest deficit in an SEC game this season.

It didn't last long. Alabama scored the final nine points, including six straight from Green to cut it to 31-25 by halftime. Auburn pushed it back to 12 points 8 minutes into the second half, but managed only eight points the rest of the way.

Alabama didn't hit a field goal until the 12:05 mark of the first half, and started the second on a four-minute scoring drought.

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