It wasn’t just his team’s lackluster second half that had Auburn coach Bruce Pearl fuming mad Friday afternoon.
Pearl also had a run-in with a member of Alabama’s staff immediately after the Crimson Tide’s 81-63 SEC quarterfinal victory over the top-seeded Tigers.
As Pearl exited the court after going through the postgame handshake line, he bumped into Alabama strength coach Lou DeNeen. The bump seemed harmless enough, but Pearl took offense to it anyway.
Auburn’s Bruce Pearl Crying About This pic.twitter.com/QUf4GqS6Uv
— BamaVideo (@BamaVideo_) March 9, 2018
An ensuing exchange of words left Pearl angry and animated. He only calmed down after security guards intervened to escort him off the floor.
ESPN says Bruce Pearl and Alabama’s strength coach were arguing after the game. https://t.co/lQGS7idZTA
— James Crepea (@JamesCrepea) March 9, 2018
When reporters in Saint Louis asked Pearl about the incident after the game, he blamed DeNeen for escalating the situation.
“Just as I was walking to my locker room, a gentleman just was in my path,” Pearl said. “I had to try and negotiate around him. I think he may have clipped me, and then he said something to me. I should be able to walk off the floor without having somebody stand in front of me and try to make contact with me.”
The postgame incident adds to a rough afternoon for Pearl’s Auburn team. The Tigers will head to the NCAA tournament having lost four of their last six games.
Auburn actually led Alabama by 10 at halftime, but the Tigers were outscored 50-22 in the second half. Dynamic freshman guard Collin Sexton sparked the comeback, scoring 31 points just a day after he extended the Crimson Tide’s SEC tournament run with a coast-to-coast layup at the buzzer to defeat Texas A&M.
Alabama entered the SEC tournament with its NCAA tournament hopes hanging by a thread after a five-game losing streak to end the regular season. The Tide (19-14) have since added two marquee wins, likely sewing up their place in the field of 68.
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