Film Room: Can Auburn basketball's balance be the big difference at Alabama?
Auburn isn't taking nearly as many 3s as usual, but it can win on offense in a greater number of ways. Taking that to Tuscaloosa is imperative.
PF Jaylin Williams (Jacob Taylor/Auburn Athletics)
Not too long ago, it was easy to envision this season’s Auburn-Alabama series as a matchup of high-octane offenses who crank up both the pace of play and the 3-point attempts.
Nate Oats’ Alabama team has definitely done that. The Crimson Tide average the 14th-fastest possession time in college basketball, and 45.5% of their field goal attempts come from downtown — good enough for 32nd nationally.
Through 15 games, Alabama already has three players who have attempted at least 80 triples in Jadon Shackelford, Jahvon Quinerly and Keon Ellis. (Shackelford has attempted 125, which is 15 more than the second-closest player in the SEC, Tennessee’s Santiago Vescovi.) For such a fierce rivalry between in-state schools, it’s easy to see that Oats is a coach after Pearl’s own heart.
“If Alabama's team or coaching staff were playing and coaching somewhere else, they'd be like one of my favorite teams in college basketball and one of my favorite coaches 'cause the way they play,” Pearl said. “They run, they spread it, they shoot the 3 ball, they get it to the rim, they get to the foul line, they play hard defensively, they're hard to guard, they make great adjustments.”
Auburn does all of those things, too, but it’s all had a different look in its 15-game rise to the No. 4 team in the country. The core DNA is there, yet this isn’t the same style of basketball that famously got the Tigers to the Final Four in 2019.