AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Rylan Griffen scored 16 points, Mark Sears added 15 and No. 3 Alabama held off a big challenge from its in-state rival, beating Auburn 77-69 on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide (22-3, 12-0 Southeastern Conference) remained the only Power-5 team without a league loss.
The Tigers (17-8, 7-5) missed nine straight shots in the final minutes. They have dropped five of their last six after being ranked most of the way.
Sears and Griffen helped Alabama overcome an off shooting performance from star Brandon Miller, who had 13 points but missed all seven 3-point attempts.
Sears made 5 of 7 shots and had seven rebounds and three assists, and scored 10 points in the second half. Griffen scored 11 after halftime and made 3 of 5 3s. Jaden Bradley missed only one shot and had 12 points.
Wendell Green Jr. had 16 of his 24 points in the second half for Auburn, going 7 of 19 from the floor. Jaylin Williams had 14 of his 16 points before the half and KD Johnson added 12.
Miller’s driving layup with 2:37 left gave Alabama a 71-66 lead, its biggest to that point. The Tigers went cold before Green’s layup at the buzzer that kept Alabama from its 11th double-digit SEC win.
Alabama shot 59.2% (29 of 49) in the game but the nation’s top rebounding team was edged on the boards, 36-34.
Auburn led by as many as eight points in the first half, shutting down the Tide’s two top scorers most of the way. Miller didn’t score for more than 11 minutes and Sears got his first points at the free throw line with 4:26 left.
But it was 37-all by halftime with Miller missing his fourth straight 3-point attempt with a chance at the lead in the closing seconds. He scored six points below his average.
Alabama: Has won 13 of its last 14 and four in a row. … Lost both meetings with the Tigers last season. … Outscored Auburn 44-20 in the paint.
Auburn: Fell to 1-2 against Top 25 teams this season. Hosted its first Top 5 team since losing to No. 2 Kentucky 68-53 on Feb. 11, 2012. Made 22 of 26 free throws (84.6%).
Alabama visits No. 6 Tennessee on Wednesday night.
Auburn hosts Missouri on Tuesday night.
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