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February 29, 2012TUSCALOOSA | JaMychal Green didn't stand around waiting for a lovely parting gift at his Senior Night.
Instead, he made his farewell to Coleman Coliseum a success through his own second-half effort.
Green scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, including a critical tip-in with 34 seconds remaining, to help a cold-shooting University of Alabama basketball team hold off Auburn 55-49 on Wednesday night.
"For this to be my last game at the Coliseum, that's the way I'd like to go out," Green said. "I really didn't think of it as my last game, I just thought about winning."
Green, who had a game-winning tip-in against Auburn last year in a home win, said he was reminded of that game.
"That one was even uglier," he laughed.
"I think the emotion of the game affected us early on," UA coach Anthony Grant said. "I think all our guys wanted to send JaMychal out with a win, send him out the right way."
It was the seventh win in the last nine games for Alabama (20-9, 9-6 Southeastern Conference), with both losses in that stretch coming while Green was suspended. It was also the fifth straight win by the Crimson Tide over Auburn.
"I thought at the end of the game, we had guys step up and make plays," Grant said. "JaMychal played well. Andrew Steele made plays. I thought Ben Eblen played great. He could have been the difference in the game with the way he disrupted their half-court offense."
But it was Green who made the most impact after halftime, whether it was getting to the foul line - he went 10 times, a large part of a pronounced Alabama edge (32-12) in free-throw attempts - or tipping in a Trevor Lacey miss and stretching Alabama's precarious two-point lead to 51-47 with 34 seconds to play.
"That's what your seniors are supposed to do," Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. "Finish the game. You can't count on your freshmen to do that. Your best players have to do that."
After forcing a 43-43 tie with 6:12 to play, Auburn (14-15, 4-11 SEC) made just one field goal - an uncontested Josh Wallace layup with 7 seconds to go - in the remainder of the game.
"We just folded at the end, something that's been a problem for us all year," Auburn guard Frankie Sullivan said.
Alabama was not much more efficient offensively, making a season-low 14 shots on 45 attempts, but the Crimson Tide was buoyed by foul shooting and defense.
"They are very physical on defense, maybe the most physical in our league," Barbee said. "I thought we guarded pretty well, but we struggled to score, which has been the story with us."
Auburn took a quick 10-4 lead, but Alabama answered with a 19-4 run of its own, going ahead 23-14 with 2:17 remaining in the first half. But UA let almost all that lead slip away and would have been tied at halftime had Auburn's Kenny Gabriel not missed a dunk with two seconds left in the half.
Alabama's 23-21 halftime lead did not last, though, and Auburn twice built a three-point edge in the second half. UA took the lead on four straight points by Steele, including a layup with 4:40 remaining, and Auburn never pulled even again.
Gabriel led Auburn with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Lacey added 10 points for the Crimson Tide.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.