Avery Johnson, players preview Crimson Tide’s trip to Auburn

Damian Jones, Jimmie Taylor, Riley Norris
Vanderbilt center Damian Jones (30) tries to shoot as he is defended by Alabama's Jimmie Taylor (10) and Riley Norris, right, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Coming off an uninspired performance at Vanderbilt Saturday, the Alabama Crimson Tide will continue their road swing with a trip to Auburn for the first of two games against the Tigers this season.

“We’ve taken pride at being a pretty decent road team this year,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “That’s why I was a little bit surprised at our lack of focus and energy in our last game. And, you know, whenever you get to the free throw line twenty times and only make seven, you’ve got to look internally at what’s going on.”

Johnson said the team has had a couple good practices ahead of the trip to Auburn where free throws and other issues from the game against the Commodores have been addressed. He’s excited to get back on the court for this game, and the players feel they have a good idea of what Auburn likes to do.

“Just watching them on film and stuff, they shoot a lot of threes, we shoot a lot of threes, so it’s going to be who can stop who,” Riley Norris said. “We know they’ve got a lot of great players. Kareem Canty’s really good, and we know we’ve got to shut him down, cause he’s a major part of their offense, but I mean, they’ve got other players that can make shots, too.”

In the post, the Tide will have to contend with Cinmeon Bowers who is coming off an inspired performance against Kentucky after saying the Tigers could take down the ‘Cats.

“He’s one of the more physical guys in the league, and we just have to play him physical,” Jimmie Taylor said of Bowers. “I like playing against him.”

Johnson was asked about being the next home game for Auburn after the win over Kentucky and whether he expects a hostile environment.

“It won’t be the worst hostile environment I’ve seen. You know all the places I’ve been, right?” Johnson quipped back at the question. “So, for, maybe, some of our new guys that are new to the rivalry, maybe for them, but I’ve been a lot of different places. There’s none that really stick out. You know, Boston Garden. There’s a lot of places. Oklahoma City has a pretty intense home court. Golden State Warriors. Lot of places.”

This will also be Johnson’s first experience on the court with the rivalry, but he recalls his first experience with it overall was watching this year’s Iron Bowl while at the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando in November.

“You know, watching our football game in Florida and seeing how the folks, Bama fans, we were watching the game with, they were basically climbing the walls on every down, so that was pretty exciting.” Johnson said. “Just hearing the passion of our fans and alumni, students and administration when I first took the job here, a lot of the talk was about that rivalry against Auburn.”

However, for Taylor and Norris, who both grew up in Alabama, they know what to expect when the Tide and Tigers get together, especially after Alabama swept the season series in 2015.

“This is our state,” Taylor said when asked about what last year’s sweep meant.

“Growing up an Alabama fan, you always want to beat Auburn no matter what it is,” Norris added. “We know that’s behind us and yeah, we’re proud we won last year, but we’ve got to focus on tomorrow.”

Alabama and Auburn will tip off at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday night with the game airing on the SEC Network.

Copyright 2016 WIAT CBS 42 News

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