Alabama Basketball: Tide slaps Auburn and punches 'Dance' ticket

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United Kingdom limited Alabama to 7-for-23 shooting in the first half.

The key to Alabama's success is star Collin Sexton who has been on a tear of late.

Collin Sexton and Alabama didn't so much engineer an upset or a second-half dismantling of Auburn as much as they made a series of statements Friday afternoon: The Crimson Tide belongs in the NCAA tournament, and Sexton has stolen the crown from Oklahoma's Trae Young as America's most exciting freshman point guard.

How good was the Tide's second-half defense? The Tigers never did slow Alabama, which scored 50 points in the second half in a complete reversal from the opening half.

"I didn't raise my voice", Alabama Coach Avery Johnson said.

Mustapha Heron led Auburn (25-7) with 18 points, 11 of which came in the first half.

And when June rolls around, Sexton might still be ahead of Young when it comes time for the National Basketball Association draft. Still, Sexton finished with 21 points. The performance came after he scored 27 points and hit the game-winning shot against Texas A&M on Thursday.

While Auburn heads home to await its NCAA T ournament destination, Alabama continues its SEC T ournament run.

The 7-of-7 performance set United Kingdom school records and SEC Tournament records for most 3-pointers made without a miss. Bryce Brown shot 1-for-8 from beyond the arc.

You read that right: Gabriel shot 7-for-7 from three point range.

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Even Auburn coach Bruce Pearl acknowledged the point guard's ability to carry a team for long stretches. "We did what we wanted to do in the first half". "He's been working really hard - before practice, after practice - and I've seen it a couple times in practice where he'll go four times down while we're scrimmaging and make a three".

Mark Fox fell to 163-133 in nine seasons at the Bulldogs' coach after Kentucky beat Georgia 62-49 on Friday.

Auburn won a share of the SEC regular-season title for the first time since 1999 and arrived at the conference tournament as the top seed.

Kentucky's starting lineup featured Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox, PJ Washington and Nick Richards for the 13th time this season. They jumped out to an early lead and led the entire game. On one fast break, he went around his back before dumping off a pass to Donta Hall for a two-handed dunk that put Alabama up 17 in the second half.

It led to technical fouls, ejections and an entirely freaky final 10 minutes in which Sexton was one of three Crimson Tide players facing five from Minnesota.

After John Petty banked in a three-pointer from near the top of the key (thoughts of Texas A&M banking in threes against United Kingdom last month might have come to mind), Gabriel stymied Alabama's momentum by making a three from the left corner.

"I think the only way we can secure our spot is winning the whole thing, honestly", Mobley said. "We didn't get as good of looks offensively early, but I just remember our zone wasn't almost as effective, and they made some shots and got a couple of loose balls, and next thing you know, it's close".

No. 13 Tennessee (24-7) led almost the entire game, but the Volunteers had to hang on for a quarterfinal victory. The Bulldogs trailed 61-59 when Xavian Stapleton missed a three-pointer that would have put his team ahead.

The Razorbacks hit 83.8 percent (46 of 55) free throws against the Gamecocks in two games this season. The SEC Tournament record for three-pointers is eight, which is shared by six players. Grant Williams finished with a double-double, notching 10 points and 11 boards.