Alabama vs. Auburn Hoops: A “Civil” Rivalry [Audio]
Whether on the football field, on the basketball court or on the baseball diamond, Alabama and Auburn are almost certain to leave plenty of scrap iron behind when they face each other.
While the rivalry on the football field has drawn the attention of spectators across the country, the two basketball teams could both see their names called as participants in the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday.
Two days prior to Alabama’s trip to Auburn Arena, Saturday Down South contributor Al Blanton examined the history of Alabama-Auburn on the hardwood with Wimp and Barry Sanderson on Inside the Locker Room.
Although Alabama has a commanding 94-62 lead in the series against Auburn, the two teams have battled in highly competitive games over the years.
One particular decade that highlighted the Alabama-Auburn rivalry on the basketball court was the 1980s.
Wimp Sanderson led the Crimson Tide to seven NCAA Tournament appearances, three SEC Tournament titles and one SEC regular season title while Sonny Smith took Auburn to their first five NCAA Tournament appearances from 1984-1988.
The two coaches recruited numerous star players including Charles Barkley, Derrick McKey, Buck Johnson and Chuck Person.
Blanton noted the era of Wimp and Sonny in the '80s as one of the best eras in the state for both SEC programs.
“It was sort of the golden age of Auburn and Alabama basketball.” Blanton said.
The Saturday Down South contributor noted the dynamics in recruiting, on-court play and the personalities that made the rivalry special during that decade.
As Avery Johnson and Bruce Pearl prepare their teams for Wednesday night’s game and the stretch run toward an NCAA Tournament berth, Blanton sees the basketball rivalry rekindling its spark from the era of Sonny and Wimp.
“It’s been 30 years since both schools have been ranked at the time that they played each other, but this year, it’s got this feeling of the time of Sonny and Wimp.” Blanton said.
Catch Inside the Locker Room every weekday from 7-9 AM on Tide 102.9/100.9 and the Tide 102.9 app.