By CHARLIE CLARKE
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Collin Sexton scored 31 points and Alabama used a strong second half to defeat No. 16 Auburn 81-63 Friday in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The Crimson Tide trailed 41-31 at halftime but started the second half on a 28-3 run. The stretch was keyed by three consecutive 3s by Sexton. Alabama's surge put the Tigers away early in the half, and the Crimson Tide (19-14) outscored Auburn 50-22 after the break.
Mustapha Heron led Auburn (25-7) with 18 points, 11 of which came in the first half. Desean Murray scored 15 points, all in the first half. The Tigers moved the ball well on offense and drilled seven 3s in the first half.
By the time halftime hit, it was all Sexton. The freshman scored 21 second-half points. The performance came after he scored 27 points and hit the game-winning shot against Texas A&M on Thursday.
Auburn's shooting struggles continued. Jared Harper finished 2 of 11 with seven points. Bryce Brown shot 1-for-8 from beyond the arc. The Tigers shot just 24 percent in the second half and 1-for-14 from 3-point range.
Alabama: Sexton has been awesome for the Tide all year, but he has especially come alive in the SEC Tournament. His dominance here may already have earned the Tide a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Auburn: The Tigers are a shell of their midseason selves right now. Auburn's offense looked dynamic in the first half, but the team imploded down the stretch. The Tigers have lost four of their last six games and their NCAA Tournament seed continues to drop.
Alabama will take on the winner of Kentucky vs. Georgia in the tournament semifinals Saturday.
Auburn will wait to see its postseason fate on Sunday.
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