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Local Sports Stories Archives for 2024-03

No. 12 Auburn routs No. 15 South Carolina to advance in SEC Tournament

NASHVILLE – It wasn’t Neville Arena, but it sure felt like it inside Bridgestone Arena on Friday as No. 12 Auburn cruised to an 86-55 victory over No. 15 South Carolina in front of a strong contingent of Auburn fans in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament.


The 31-point victory was Auburn’s fifth win by at least 30 points this season and one point shy of the program’s largest SEC Tournament win all-time. 


One of those 30-point victories came against this same South Carolina team back in February. The Tigers reached 100 points in that matchup, winning 101-61. In Friday’s rematch, it was the defense that stepped up and made the biggest impact as Auburn held the Gamecocks to just 55 points on 28 percent shooting from the field (16-of-57).


“In yesterday's (SEC Tournament) game, they scored 50 points in the paint. We knew we can't win like that,” Auburn big man Johni Broome said. “Our front line takes pride in our defense. As you can see, on the defensive side, we held our own and stood our ground.”


“We're built a little differently,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “I think Dylan (Cardwell) and Johni, Chaney (Johnson) and J-Will (Jaylin Williams) are all older and they're all bigger, and they're willing to be physical.”


Broome set the tone offensively and defensively for the Tigers. The First Team All-SEC selection finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. It was his 23rd straight game in double figures and his 12th double-double of the season – tops in the conference.


Midway through the second half, Broome showed his range by knocking down a pair of 3-pointers during a 13-4 Auburn run that pushed the lead to 32. 


“Coach (Pearl) always tells us now is the time to go on a run, make shots,” Broome said. “That's how you advance in the tournament, in the NCAA tournament, how you win games. I think everybody has been taking pride in what he said because we went through a little shooting slump mid-season. I just credit all my teammates for being in the gym.


“Like Chaney (Johnson) said, stepping up to the moment when the moment's getting big.”


Johnson stepped up Friday too with 11 points off the bench for the Tigers. It was just the third double-figure scoring game of the season for the UAH transfer who added three rebounds, three assists and two blocks in what was his first SEC Tournament game.


Broome, Johnson and K.D. Johnson (10 points) were the only Auburn players to score in double figures against South Carolina, but 11 different players scored in the game.


“If you told me we'd have 10 guys score and that Jaylin Williams would only have three, I may be a little concerned,” Pearl joked after the game. 


“Again, there would be a lot of guys that were Second Team All-Conference and a fifth-year senior that only got two shots, and they'd be all upset in that locker room. You would never know it from Jaylin Williams. He's excited about winning. He doesn't care. He was happy that Chaney Johnson came in there and did what Chaney did.”


With the win, Auburn advanced to the SEC Tournament semifinals for the 14th time in program history and the third time under Pearl (2015, 2019, 2024). The Tigers will play Mississippi State in the first semifinal Saturday with tipoff scheduled for 2:30 p.m. CT.



» Auburn won its 25th game of the season with its 79-49 victory over South Carolina in the SEC Tournament Quarterfinals. With the win, the Tigers advanced to the SEC Tournament semifinals for the 14th time in program history and the third time under head coach Bruce Pearl (2015 and 2019).


» AU’s 25 wins are tied for fifth-most in program history. This season is the fifth time in the last seven seasons Auburn has won at least 25 games. The Tigers won their fourth-straight game after winning their last three games in the regular season, making this the second time this season they have won at least four-straight games over SEC opponents after winning their first five games to open SEC play.


» With the win, Auburn now leads 32-19 in the all-time series against South Carolina. The Tigers have now won eight-straight games over the Gamecocks, the last seven of those by double digits, including a 101-61 victory then No. 11-ranked South Carolina on Feb. 14 at Neville Arena – AU’s largest margin of victory all-time over a ranked opponent. The Tigers are now also 4-1 in SEC Tournament games versus the Gamecocks.


» Head Coach Bruce Pearl is 22-6 against South Carolina including 10-4 at Auburn. He is 3-1 against the Gamecocks in games played at neutral sites including a 73-64 victory in the 2019 SEC Tournament quarterfinals as the Tigers won their first SEC Tournament title since 1985 (second in program history).


» Pearl is 3-0 against second-year Gamecocks head coach Lamont Paris including Auburn’s 81-66 at South Carolina last season and the Tigers’ 101-61 victory over the Gamecocks.


» Auburn improves to 31-40 (.437) in the SEC Tournament since its renewal in 1979. Overall, the Tigers are now 35-57 (.380) in the tournament.


» Auburn is now 8-6 in eight SEC Tournament appearances under Coach Pearl.


» The Tigers’ 86-55 win over South Carolina is the team’s fifth win by at least 30 points this season and a team SEC-best 14th win by 20-plus points. The 31-point win was one point shy of Auburn’s largest SEC Tournament win of all-time (93-61 over Alabama in 1999). The Tigers have won their two games against South Carolina this season by an average margin of 35.5 points, after beating the Gamecocks, 101-61 (+40) on Feb. 14 at Neville Arena.


» Auburn led South Carolina, 46-26, at halftime. It was the sixth time this season the Tigers have led by at least 20 points at the half including both games against the Gamecocks after holding a 50-28 halftime lead against them in both teams’ regular-season matchup. The Tigers are 24-1 when leading at halftime this season. They have won 24-straight games when leading at half after a season-opening loss to Baylor.


» Auburn has topped the 80-point mark in both games against South Carolina this season averaging 93.5 points per game against the Gamecocks. It was the only two times South Carolina has allowed 80 points in regulation this season.


» Auburn is 32-64 (.333) all-time when playing in the city of Nashville including 2-0 this season after winning 80-65 at Vanderbilt on Jan. 17. The Tigers are 11-10 in SEC Tournament games in the Music City (19-52 at Vanderbilt, 1-0 vs. Dartmouth, 1-0 vs. Saint Louis, 0-1 vs. Middle Tennessee and 0-1 vs. Western Kentucky in Nashville).


» Coach Pearl is 17-7 in his coaching career at Bridgestone Arena including 8-5 at Auburn. Pearl is 10-6 at the location in the SEC Tournament including 8-4 at Auburn.


» Auburn is 8-10 all-time at Bridgestone Arena including an 8-5 mark under Bruce Pearl. The Tigers are 8-8 in SEC Tournament games in the venue including 8-4 under Pearl.


» Auburn is now 11-10 all-tim in 11 SEC Tournament appearances in the city of Nashville, Tenn.


» Auburn is 15-16 in 17 SEC Tournament appearances in the state of Tennessee. The Tigers are 2-4 in four SEC Tournament appearances in Knoxville, 2-2 in two SEC Tournament appearances in Memphis and 11-10 in 11 SEC Tournament appearances in Nashville.


» Auburn is 4-1 against South Carolina in the SEC Tournament. The Tigers’ .800 SEC Tournament winning percentage against the Gamecocks is their best against any opponent.


» Auburn committed just five turnovers in its win over South Carolina. It was the 12th time this season the Tigers have committed single-digit turnovers including the sixth time against a SEC opponent. Auburn have averaged just 6.0 turnovers in two wins over South Carolina this season.


» It was also the third time the Tigers have committed no more than five turnovers in a game this season (tied school record with 3 turnovers vs. Indiana and had 5 turnovers vs. Alabama).


» Auburn scored 41 bench points, which was the ninth time this season the Tigers have scored at least 40 bench points including the fourth time against an SEC opponent. AU outscored South Carolina, 80-17, in bench points in two games this season. Eleven players scored for Auburn in Friday’s quarterfinal win.


» Auburn placed three players in double figures in its win over South Carolina led by Johni Broome’s SEC-leading 12th double-double of the season and the 58th of his career with 18 points and 10 rebounds to go with three assists. It was Broome’s 23rd-straight game in double figures during which his is averaging 16.8 points and 8.5 rebounds and shooting 53.8 percent from the floor over that period.


» Chaney Johnson came off the bench and scored 11 points on 4-of-8 field goals, including 1-of-1 from deep, and 2-of-2 from the foul line against the Gamecocks. He also added three rebounds, three assists and two blocks in the win over South Carolina. It was Johnson’s third double-figure scoring game of the season and the 70th of his career including the second time in SEC play this season (16 points at Georgia).


» K.D. Johnson chipped in 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor and 2-of-3 from long range to go with a season-high-tying five rebounds and three assists against South Carolina. It was Johnson’s ninth game in double figures this season and the 60th of his career.


No. 19/19 Alabama Falls to Florida in SEC Tournament Quarterfinals

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 19/19 Alabama men’s basketball team fell to Florida, 102-88, in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals Friday night in Bridgestone Arena. 


The Crimson Tide (21-11) was led by Mark Sears’ 22 points while Nick Pringle earned his second consecutive double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.


The Gators (23-10) were led by Walter Clayton Jr.’s 23 points including 11-11 shooting from the foul line.


Head Coach Nate Oats Postgame Comments

“This certainly was not the outcome we were expecting or hoping for. You have to give Florida a lot of credit, they played us very well in two games during the regular season. I thought we had a good start to the game, then they adjusted, and we lost the mentality to put them away early.”


  • The defeat was head coach Nate Oats’ first loss in the city of Nashville since arriving in Tuscaloosa
  • Previously, Oats was 6-0 at the SEC Tournament in Nashville and is 4-0 when his teams have played at Vanderbilt
  • Nick Pringle collected his second double-double of the season, both coming in each of the Tide’s last two contests
  • Alabama is now 6-2 (.750) in SEC Tournament contests under Oats
  • The Tide was held to just 24 percent (6-25) from three-point range, making it the sixth time this season, and third time against UF, that’s happened



  • The Crimson Tide got off to a fast start, scoring the game’s first eight points to force an early Florida timeout at the 18:06 mark
  • After trading baskets, the Gators broke the stalemate with a 10-0 run to take their first lead of the game at the under four-minute media timeout
  • Florida would continue its run by scoring 11 of the next 13 points, making it a 21-2 run that turned a 31-27 Alabama lead into a 48-33 halftime deficit



  • Florida would extend its lead to as many as 24 points on several occasions
  • The Tide made a late push and was able to cut the lead to 12, 96-84, with just under a minute remaining but could not get any closer



  • Alabama will await its NCAA Tournament fate which will be determined on Selection Sunday
  • The NCAA Tournament selection show will be televised on CBS beginning at 5 p.m. CT


For all the latest information on the team, follow AlabamaMBB on X, Instagram and Facebook. General athletic news can be found @UA_Athletics on X and Instagram and Alabama Athletics on Facebook.


UNA opts not to renew contract of Coach Missy Tiber

FLORENCE, Ala. (March 11, 2024) – University of North Alabama Director of Athletics Dr. Josh Looney announced Monday that UNA will not renew the contract of head women’s basketball coach Missy Tiber.


“Coach Tiber has left a positive impact on many associated with UNA Women’s Basketball, on and off the court,” said Dr. Looney. “We want to thank Coach Tiber and her staff for the hard work and commitment they have poured into our program, and for the memorable moments they’ve added to our proud history.


“These are extremely difficult decisions, involving good people and dedicated staff members, but I concluded that new energy and a change in approach is necessary to push our program trajectory higher.”


Over 11 seasons at North Alabama, Tiber compiled an overall record of 172-147. She began her stint at UNA in 2013-14 and led the UNA women’s basketball program through the Division I transition.


In the final season of Division II, Tiber’s team finished with a 24-5 record. The following season, UNA made its Division I debut with a 21-9 record and won two games at the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) en route to the semifinal round.


Tiber just completed her 24th season as a head coach and has a career record of 353-302 with previous stops at West Liberty State, Belmont Abbey and Tusculum.


“I’m thankful for my time here at UNA and for those who believed in us,” said Tiber. “It’s been an honor to coach and mentor so many wonderful young ladies. I am thankful for the Shoals community and the many people who I have built lifelong relationships with. UNA will always have a special place in the hearts of Zeke, Lola and I.”


The University, in conjunction with Renaissance Search and Consulting, will immediately begin a national search for the next leader of UNA Women’s Basketball. Assistant coach Josh Ashley will serve as the program’s interim head coach during the search process.


No. 14 Auburn splits doubleheader vs. UConn

AUBURN, Ala. – No. 14 Auburn split Saturday’s doubleheader vs. UConn, winning game one 8-1 before falling 8-4 in game two at Plainsman Park.


“I thought it was the best game we played all year in the first game,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “It was clean on the mound. Our at-bats were good throughout the ballgame. Defensively we were good. Just all the way around I thought it was our best game.


“Then I thought we followed that up 45 minutes later with our worst half inning that we’ve had all year,” Thompson added. “But we got a bunch of guys in two games, and I thought they kept playing. We chased a non-competitive top of the first the entire ballgame and still had a chance.”


Offensively, Auburn (8-2) continued its season-opening streak of games with a home run with four on the day and has now homered in 10 straight games to start the season. Ike Irish collected a team-high three hits in the doubleheader and reached the 100-hit milestone in just his 68th career game played.


On the mound, Chase Allsup (1-0, 4.50) earned the win in the opening game, throwing a season-high 6.0 innings with a season high six strikeouts. Allsup allowed a run in the first inning of the day but held the Huskies at bay in his final five frames.


“The first couple of innings were sporadic, but I felt like as time went on, I found the slider again and was able to fill up the zone with more than one pitch.”


“I loved how Chase finished the game. I thought he was getting better. I just liked how he finished strong,” Thompson added. “I do want them coming out on the attack, and I thought that’s what Chase did. I thought he settled and we saw some growth with him.”


Seventeen position players and seven pitchers ultimately saw action in a game Saturday.




The two teams traded runs in the first inning with UConn scoring on a solo homer and Auburn manufacturing a run on a hit batter, walk, double steal and groundout to second. After throwing out a runner at third to end the top of the first, Bobby Peirce got the job done with the RBI groundout in the bottom of the frame.


UConn threatened by putting a runner on third with nobody out in the second, but Allsup buckled down and escaped the inning unscathed with back-to-back strikeouts and a flyout to center. Allsup ultimately allowed just the one run on six hits with two walks and a season-high six strikeouts.


After drawing a walk, stealing two bases and scoring a run in the first, Cooper Weiss hit a solo homer to start the bottom of the third inning and give Auburn the lead. The home run was Weiss’ first in an Auburn uniform.


Two innings later, Wiess also accounted for an Auburn run with a sacrifice fly after Javon Hernandez started the inning with a triple to left center. Later in the frame, Peirce hit a two-run homer off the scoreboard to make it a 5-1 game. The home run was Peirce’s fourth of the season, including his third in the last five games.


Maners hit a two-RBI single back up the middle to extend the lead to six in the eighth, marking his third hit of the game, and Weiss capped off the scoring in the contest with a RBI single to right. 


John Armstrong allowed just two baserunners on a walk and error in the final 3.0 innings and earned the save.



After being held scoreless in the final eight innings of game one, UConn scored six runs on four hits, including a two-run homer, in the first inning of game two. 


Auburn answered with three runs of its own in the bottom of the first. Irish’s 100th career hit was a solo homer to left field to start the scoring. The sophomore joined an elite list of Auburn players by reaching the milestone in just his 68th game played.  After Peirce doubled, Cooper McMurray launched his fourth homer of the season on top of the hitting facility in right field.


The Huskies continued to score in the early going with a run on a RBI single in the second and solo homer in the third, but the Tigers bullpen duo of Christian Herberholz and Tanner Bauman held the visitors scoreless in the fourth through seventh frames with five strikeouts apiece.


Trailing 8-3, Auburn threatened with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, but managed just one run on a bases-loaded walk from McMurray in the eighth. Chris Stanfield hit a line drive to third with two outs in the seventh, but it was snared and erased a potential bases-clearing double.


Parker Carlson and Hayden Murphy turned in scoreless innings with a strikeout apiece in the eighth and ninth.


The series finale between the two teams is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. CT at Plainsman Park.

Back-and-Forth Contest Favors Tide as Alabama Baseball Earns 7-6 Win over Arizona on Saturday

FRISCO, Texas – Alabama baseball traded blows with Arizona all afternoon on Saturday, with the Tide getting the upper hand for a 7-6 win at Riders Field. The 15th-ranked Tide is now 11-0 on the year and 2-0 in the Frisco Classic.


Arizona was first on the board on Saturday, putting up a four-spot in the fourth thanks to a pair of two-run homers. The Tide answered immediately with a three-run fifth and tied things up in the sixth thanks to a solo homer from Will Hodo. Alabama then took the lead for the first time with a run in the seventh, but the Wildcats came right back with a two-spot following the seventh inning stretch. The Tide, once again, rallied to retake the lead with a two-run eighth before holding off a late push from Arizona for the 7-6 victory.


The hits for Alabama were spread across the order on Saturday afternoon with seven of the nine starters contributing at least one knock. Hodo and Bryce Eblin each homered with Eblin’s accounting for two runs, the team-high mark for RBI. The Tide second baseman also contributed two runs scored and was matched by Evan Sleight for the team lead in that category.


Reliever Alton Davis II (1-0) picked up the win with 2.0 scoreless innings of work that included one hit, a walk and three strikeouts. He was followed by Matthew Heiberger, with the freshman earning his first career save thanks to a scoreless ninth that included one hit and one strikeout.


From Head Coach Rob Vaughn

“What a crazy game that was. It was back and forth, but our guys didn’t panic. I talk about it a lot with the team that I want them to expect to have success. We put a lot of emphasis on having shutdown innings and trying to make sure that when we score, they don’t – and vice versa, when we give up runs, we answer. Whether that’s 1, 4, 6 runs, always answering, that’s just what winning baseball looks like. Our guys played a really professional ballgame tonight.”


How It Happened

  • B4 | After a leadoff walk, Mason White hit a two-run home run for the Wildcats. Then, with two down, a double followed by a Blake McDonald homer added to the advantage. (4-0, Arizona)
  • T5 | Evan Sleight started the Tide rally with a double to left. One out later, Sleight came home thanks to a two-run home run by Bryce Eblin. Justin Lebron followed with a single to left and moved himself into scoring position with a stolen base. He would come home in that same at-bat on an RBI-single from Gage Miller. (4-3, Arizona)
  • T6 | Will Hodo sent a 1-2 pitch over the wall in center for a solo homer. (4-4)
  • T7 | Eblin led off with a single and moved into scoring position with a stolen base. Miller then brought the Tide second baseman in with a liner at the Arizona third baseman that ricocheted into no-man’s land in left. (5-4, Alabama)
  • B7 | A sacrifice fly with the bases loaded tied things. One out later, a single deep in the hole at second led to a bang-bang play at first that favored the Wildcats, bringing in the go-ahead run in the process. (6-5, Arizona)
  • T8 | Mason Swinney kept the inning alive with a two-out single. Sleight followed with a walk to put two aboard for Guscette, with the catcher sending a ball to third that resulted in an error to bring both runners home. (7-6, Alabama)


Postgame Notes

  • Alabama is now 11-0 to start the Rob Vaughn era. The 11-0 mark represents the longest winning streak to start a Crimson Tide head coaching career, surpassing the previous record of 10 by Kid Peeples in 1897.
  • The 11-game winning streak also ties for the fourth-best start to any season, tying the 1988 team.
  • The UA pitching staff tallied 10 punchouts and has struck out double-digit batters in seven games.
  • Alabama’s offense has registered double-digit hits in nine of the 11 games this season.
  • With his double in the fourth, TJ McCants extended his hitting streak to 11 games. Over the current stretch, the senior is batting .395 (17-43) with five doubles, one triple, six homers, 19 RBI, 14 runs scored, seven walks, a hit-by-pitch and four stolen bases.
  • Gage Miller started his day with a leadoff single to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. Over the streak, the junior is batting .463 (19-41) with two doubles, five home runs, 18 RBI, 18 runs, one walk and three hit-by-pitch.
  • Mason Swinney extended his hitting streak to six games. Across the streak, Swinney is batting .429 (9-21) with two doubles, three RBI, seven runs, five walks and a hit-by-pitch.


The Crimson Tide will wrap up the Frisco Classic on Sunday at 4 p.m. CT. Alabama is set to square off with No. 23 Dallas Baptist at Riders Field with the game streaming on D1Baseball.com.


Get all the latest information on the team by following @AlabmaBSB on X/Twitter and Instagram and on Facebook at Alabama Baseball. General athletic news can be found at UA_Athletics on X/Twitter and Instagram and AlabamaAthletics on Facebook.­

Knight's heroics help UNA split doubleheader with UAB

FLORENCE, Ala. (March 2, 2024) – The University of North Alabama baseball team split a pair of matches with UAB in a Saturday doubleheader at Mike D. Lane Field in Florence, Ala. Both games were high-scoring affairs, with the Lions coming out on top 9-8 in game one before a 10-8 UAB victory in game two.


The Lions move to 3-7 on the season, while the Blazers exit Saturday’s games at 4-6.


Game 1 — UAB 8, North Alabama 9


UNA opened up the floodgates early in game one. Leadoff hitter Jackson Ferrigno jumped on the first pitch he saw and sent it over the fence to put the Lions up 1-0. Jonathan Lane swiftly followed suit with a double to the right center field gap and following a Gehrig Frei walk, a Kyle Machado double down the line added another to the UNA lead. 


After an error and a groundout pushed across a pair of runners, Dominick McIntyre joined the party, notching an RBI single of his own. Catcher Levi Jensen lasered one down the right field line for his second homer of the season to put UNA up 7-0. Ferrigno tallied his second extra base hit of the inning on a double before a groundout ended the home half. 


Jacob James made his third start of the season and continued to dominate. The southpaw from Loretto, Tenn. struck out nine batters and only allowed three hits across five innings of work. James has now struck out 26 batters on the season and has tallied 204 strikeouts in his career. He became just the fifth player in program history to reach the 200 strikeout mark.

UAB picked up a pair in the fourth and the fifth before Frei scored his second run of the game on a fielder's choice from Knight to push the Lion lead to 8-2. The Blazers rallied from down six in the ninth to tie the game on a Jake Smallwood two-run home run. 


Andrew Knight played hero in the series opener, leading off the bottom of the ninth with a walk-off solo shot for his third home run of the season. 


Game one is the first walk-off victory by a North Alabama team since May 14, 2022 when UNA defeated Bellarmine 5-4 on a game winning single by Devne Daniel.



Pitchers of Record

W – Anthony Pingeton (1-0)

L – Braxton Brooks (1-2)

S – None


Game 2 — UAB 10, North Alabama 8


UAB got out to an early lead in the second game of the day thanks to a wild pitch and two RBI singles, making it 3-0 after the top of the first.


It didn’t take the UNA offense long to respond, after loading the bases twice, a pair of wild pitches made the score 3-2. Lane drove home another runner on a ground ball to short, tying the teams at three-all. 

Knight continued his hot streak, doubling home two more with the bases loaded, putting UNA up 5-3 after two full frames. 


Machado and Knight singled in the fourth inning, followed by a Dominick McIntyre walk to load the bases. Cal Cook brought home Machado and Knight to extend the UNA lead to 7-3.

A pair of singles in the top of the fifth helped the Blazers get one back as UNA starter Jacob Bradshaw would end his day with four and two thirds innings, allowing five hits and four runs. Caleb Menina entered in relief and struck out a UAB pinch hitter to strand two runners. 


Machado — a Preseason All-ASUN selection — pushed the lead back out to four with an RBI double, but a sacrifice fly in the sixth by UAB cut it back to a three-run lead. The Blazers rallied in the seventh to tie the game, scoring three runs on three hits and a pair of walks. 


The Blazers broke through and took the lead in the eighth with two walks, an error and an RBI single from Peyton Puckett. The UAB bullpen held the UNA offense at bay for the final six outs.



Pitchers of Record

W – Brooks House (1-1)

L – Justin Battle (0-1)

S – Christian Clack (1)




The Lions and Blazers close out the series with a rubber match on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Mike D. Lane Field.


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