AUBURN — Former Auburn sharpshooter Bryce Brown greeted each Tiger player and coach as they walked off the court at halftime.
They needed to suit him back up to help offset Alabama’s deadly 3-point shooting on Wednesday night at Auburn Arena.
Auburn would take this game 95-91, but it took a third straight overtime winning effort to do it.
After Auburn raced out to a 16-0 advantage, Alabama started firing 3-pointers like they were coming out of a machine gun.
Bam, bam, bam and Alabama trailed just 44-41 at the half.
It was if Alabama actually had the lead at the break with the way the momentum had swung.
Alabama was knocking down 3-pointers like Brown and his former teammates did all of last season in this building.
The Crimson Tide connected on 22 of 59 treys on the night and the Tigers still somehow managed to hang on for the win.
A long one from Kira Lewis had Alabama, which never led in the game, within 79-78 with still almost four minutes to play.
After an Austin Wiley free throw made it 80-78, Alabama missed four three-point attempts on three trips down the floor. Wiley again went to the free throw line with 1:35 left after getting fouled on an offensive rebound and made one of two free throws to stretch the lead back to three.
The Tide’s Alex Reese got a good look at a 3 from beyond the top of the key, but it was missed.
Wiley was blocked on Auburn’s end going up for a shot and Alabama had another chance to tie it when Lewis launched one from 3-point land that missed and went out of bounds off the Tide with 25.6 left.
It looked like Auburn was going to wrap it up in regulation.
But when Anfernee McLemore missed two free throws on Auburn’s end, Alabama made the Tigers pay as John Petty nailed — you guessed it — a 3-pointer from the wing to knot it at 81-81 with 14.9 left.
Auburn would try to win it in regulation with a 3-pointer, by J’Von McCormick, but it was way off the mark as the buzzer sounded to send the game into overtime.
The Tigers went into the extra period with super freshman Isaac Okoro out of the game with what appeared to be a hamstring injury when he tripped on a break with 1:44 left. Okoro had been the best player on the floor much of the game in leading Auburn with 19 points.
For Auburn to eventually gain the heart-stopping win, it had to do it the down and dirty way — by driving to the basket and cleaning up the backboards.
The Tigers scored the first six points in overtime on a drive by Samir Doughty, a strong power move inside by Wiley and another drive by Doughty.
Alabama fought back to within 91-88 when Petty hit a 3 with 54.2 left, but Wiley answered with a dunk off a nice assist by McCormick to make it 93-88.
The Tigers still weren’t safe.
Jaden Shackelford hit a 3-pointer with 23 seconds left to make it 93-91 before McCormick made two free throws for what would be the final points of the game.
The game was ultimately won for Auburn in the paint as the Tigers won the battle of the backboards 60-44.
Wiley played like a man among boys in scoring 18 points and hauling in 17 rebounds.
Doughty was a leader in the overtime period in taking it strong to the basket and setting the tone.
It helped offset a 28-point effort by Shackelford and 20 from Petty in leading the Tide.
Of note, Auburn’s defense — as porous as it was at times in stopping the 3s — did hold Lewis to just 10 points. In Alabama’s 83-64 win over Auburn earlier this year, Lewis led the way with 25 points.
Auburn walked off the floor looking exhausted but boasting a 22-2 record after Alabama threw everything it had at them.
Just another day in The Jungle.