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January 23, 2013

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Crimson Tide faces Auburn

The University of Alabama women's basketball team will host the Auburn Tigers tonight in the first of two scheduled meetings between the in-state rivals.

Alabama is coming off a 96-69 thrashing from Tennessee in Knoxville on Sunday. Sophomore Daisha Simmons led the game in scoring with 19 points, 12 of which came in the first seven minutes. Kaneisha Horn's 14 points and 10 rebounds gave her the fourth double-double of her career.

UA coach Wendell Hudson said there were some positives to take from the game despite the lopsided outcome.

"The problem is the results," Hudson said.
"We got wide-open shots against Tennessee. Defensively, we could do some things a little different, but they shot the ball well. Our game plan was to make their post players shoot jump shots, and we did that. But they made all of their shots."

The Crimson Tide has played four of its last five games against opponents currently ranked: at No. 16 Texas A&M, home against No. 5 Kentucky and No. 14 Georgia and at No. 9 Tennessee.

"In this league, you have to bring your 'A' game every night," Hudson said. "We'll be fine as long as we continue to play hard and play together."

Simmons paces the Crimson Tide with 12.4 points per game and a team-best 4.3 assists and 2.7 steals, while Horn averages a team-high 5.5 rebounds per game. Alabama ranks No. 2 in the nation in turnover margin, forcing 8.7 more turnovers per game than it commits, a drastic improvement over last season's team that averaged 1.8 fewer turnovers than its competition.

For senior Meghan Perkins, the two-game home stretch against the Tigers and Vanderbilt comes at the perfect time. She said the team is tired of traveling.

"The crowd gives us that extra bit of energy we need," Perkins said. "We don't get that on the road. When we're here, we get that extra spark that pushes us through. We just have to find a way to keep our energy up on the road."

Auburn enters tonight's game having lost its last three: against Texas A&M, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Auburn is shooting 44.6 percent from the floor and 31.2 percent from 3-point range. Sophomore Hasina Muhammad leads the team in scoring with an average of 16.7 points per game.

Alabama and Auburn will be meeting for the 76th time. The Tigers own a 42-33 advantage and have won the last two against the Crimson Tide, an 81-40 decision in Auburn and a 65-55 win in Tuscaloosa last season. Alabama's last win over Auburn came on Feb. 17, 2011, by a score of 59-51 in Auburn.

"It's Alabama versus Auburn, what else needs to be said?" Hudson said. "You won't have to worry about the intensity level for this game. We're going to play our best."


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