“There is nothing in life like the Iron Bowl”- Auburn and Alabama fans
All though that statement is usually used for the gridiron, on February 1, 2022, The Auburn Tigers (21-1, 9-0 SEC) took on the Alabama Crimson Tide (14-8, 4-5 SEC) in a matchup that promised fireworks, and it certainly delivered. Although it was certainly a hard-fought game, the Tigers pulled it out, claiming a 100-point game, winning 100-81. This win came due to a stellar job from the Auburn big men, including a two-block shy triple-double from Walker Kessler, and the Tigers were also helped with support from a packed Auburn Jungle.
Auburn’s K.D Johnson was the first man on the board with a fantastic euro step that gave Auburn the early lead, but both teams stalled and the first 13 minutes of play it were treated like a feeling out process. However, all that changed when Walker Kessler hit a massive alley-oop that gave the Tigers a 29-21 lead that parleyed into a dominating rest of the half. Almost every Auburn player had a hot hand, and Auburn would go on to lead at the half, 51-44.
Auburn’s Walker Kessler had a dominating performance with 14 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and eight blocks on the night. When asked about his play, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said that he had an “Unbelievable impact” on the game.
Things took a nosedive however at the start of the second half when the Crimson Tide were able to cut the lead to two at the 14-and-a-half-minute mark, thanks to a Jaden Shackelford three. Shackelford went on to lead the team in scoring with 26 points. However, Coach Bruce Pearl had an answer, “We play the bench.” Auburn’s bench did a great many things tonight, including forcing stops when the team needed them and combining for 44 points.
After the scare however, it was all coming up Auburn Basketball, as Wendell Green Jr said, “Expected them to go on a run” and Walker Kessler added on to that statement by saying “Basketball is a game of Runs,” and the Tigers went on the run of a lifetime. Although it was not perfect, the Tigers put up 100 total, something that the folks in Auburn Arena went wild for, and as I am writing this, they are making Toomer’s look like a New York Christmas in a Hallmark movie; in the words of Wendell Green Jr. “Our fans, they gonna bring it no matter who we play.”
Although Walker Kessler was two blocks off a triple double, he was not the leading scorer, that honor goes to someone who came off the bench. Wendell Green Jr. had 23 points, and when asked what had changed from the previous two games Wendell said, “I knew this was a big one.”
The Auburn Faithful will have quite a while before they are back in Auburn Arena, as they have 11 days before they play Texas A&M back at home. In the meantime, Auburn will be on a two game road, trip first against Georgia in the deep south’s oldest rivalry on February 5 at 12 p.m., and there next game will be against Arkansas on February 8 at six p.m. Although Auburn is sure to be favorited, as many have said before “ you never can tell about the SEC”