TUSCALOOSA, Alabama (Ticker) -- Alabama was able to avenge a loss to its archrival -- barely.
Erwin Dudley scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as No. 6 Alabama blew a huge lead before holding on for a 73-68 Southeastern Conference victory over Auburn.
Dudley scored 16 points in the first half as Alabama (24-5, 12-3 SEC West) opened a 35-23 halftime lead. The Crimson Tide limited the Tigers to eight baskets in the first half.
Auburn (12-14, 4-11) used a late rally and pulled within 65-64 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Adam Harrington and Derrick Bird.
Alabama freshman Maurice Williams responded with two free throws and Dudley added a pair as the Crimson Tide claimed a 69-64 lead with 21 seconds left.
Alabama, which already won the West Division, clinched the top overall SEC record. The Tide improved to 36-7 at home all-time against the Tigers.
"I am very proud of this team, our fans and our program," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "Our players put a lot of time and effort in. They wanted it." Alabama finished the season with a perfect 17-0 home record, the most home wins in school history.
Antoine Pettway drilled a 3-pointer to give Alabama a 61-51 lead with 4:23 left but the stubborn Tigers did not quit. Kyle Davis had a three-point play to trigger a 13-4 run that pulled Auburn within a point.
"We just could never break it open," Gottfried said. "They are a great basketball team." Harrington's 3-pointer made it 65-61 with 1:32 left when Alabama lost the inbounds right to Bird, who nailed his 3-pointer just four seconds later. That prompted a timeout by the Tide.
The unflappable Williams took the inbounds and was fouled and made his free throws. Pettway also added a pair later and scored seven of his 12 points in the final 4:23.
"Everyone wants to win the SEC because it's the best conference in the country," Pettway said. "Now all of the hard work has paid off and this is our reward." Dudley made 10-of-17 shots after making just 6-of-18 in a 59-56 loss at Auburn on January 12. He posted his ninth double-double in SEC play.
"He's a major player," Auburn coach Cliff Ellis said. "He didn't have that game in Auburn. There's one stat that stands out and thats No. 35 (Dudley's number). He was the major difference in this game." "I just tried to take it to them this time," Dudley said. "It's wonderful to be champions." Williams had 15 points and six rebounds while Kenny Walker added 12 points off the bench. Walker usually starts but was suspended for the first half for an undisclosed team rules violation.
The Crimson Tide won despite a 1-of-10 shooting effort for four points by Rod Grizzard. Alabama shot just 39 percent (24-of-61) but took advantage of 20 turnovers by the Tigers, including seven by Marquis Daniels.
Harrington led Auburn with 16 points and Daniels netted 14 to go with 13 rebounds. Bird fouled out with 11 and 10 as the Tigers held a 47-35 edge on the glass.
"This is a big rivalry game and we knew we couldn't fold when they had their first run," Daniels said. "We had to keep executing and play our game." Auburn has lost nine out of 12.