Avery Johnson Previews Alabama’s Trip to Auburn
Alabama basketball begins a critical month of February with their annual trip down to rival Auburn.
A win for either team could lay the foundation for a potential run at a second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Crimson Tide enters Saturday's game at 13-8, 4-3 in the SEC while Auburn comes in at 14-6, 3-4 in the SEC.
Following Thursday's practice session, Avery Johnson spoke to reporters about Saturday's game at Auburn Arena.
Heading into February, Auburn is the second highest scoring team in the conference averaging 84.3 points per game due in large part to their ability to knock home the three point shot. The Tigers lead the SEC with 11.1 three point makes per game and 30.3 three point attempts per game.
In Wednesday's 92-58 win over Missouri, Bruce Pearl's squad shot the ball 41 times from the three point line. According to Avery Johnson, limiting the amount of opportunities for Auburn to launch the perimeter shot is one of his primary keys for Saturday's game.
"I just think it's not always about the threes that they make. It's the attempts, and they had 41 attempts. I don't think it's going to be good news for us if they have 41 attempts so we have to do a good job with understanding why do they put you in those situations." Johnson said.
In order to limit the three point shot, Alabama's head coach emphasized the importance of realizing that most of Auburn's roster will not hesitate to shoot the three ball.
"We have a little bit of understanding of why and how and what we have to do to adjust and hopefully we'll understand that basically everybody on their team probably outside of maybe one big guy is a three point shooter. As soon as they get out of the car and walk from their dorms or apartments to the gym, they can all shoot threes, and we have to be ready for it." Johnson said.
Anytime that the Tide and Tigers face off in any sport, it takes on special meaning for the fans, alumni, coaches and players. Johnson expressed how he has learned this lesson since his first season in Tuscaloosa.
"I think my first year when somebody would ask me that question I would say, 'No it's no added pressure. It's another game. It's another SEC game.' I've graduated from that." Johnson said.
In his fourth season as Alabama's head basketball coach, Johnson further relayed how much he is mentally prepared for the trip to Auburn and the rivalry aspect of the contest.
"We know who we're playing. We know where we're playing. We understand the rivalry more. We understand how much it means to not only our players but their families, our fans and their families. So this idea of me taking some calm, cool approach because I was new, a little wet behind the ears to this rivalry. I totally understand it now, and we embrace the rivalry even more."
Alabama's head coach also discussed utilizing extra noise to simulate the environment of Auburn Arena, the importance of getting rebounds for Saturday's game and how the two programs competing for NCAA Tournament bids enhances the rivalry.
Alabama and Auburn tip off at 7 PM with pregame coverage on Tide 102.9/100.9 and the Tide 102.9 app beginning at 6 PM.