Win or lose, state’s basketball fans showed up to watch the opening round of the big dance

Uab Bartow Arena
UAB fans watch the first round tournament game at Bartow Arena. (Caleb Turrentine / The Bama Buzz)

Basketball fans around the state came together Friday to watch their teams in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Watch parties were held to tip off the weekend as UAB, Auburn and Alabama were playing on the other side of the country in Spokane, Washington.

Here’s a quick rundown of the first round games in the men’s tournament:

  • #4 Kansas 93, #13 Samford 89
  • #5 San Diego State 69, #12 UAB 65
  • #13 Yale 78, #4 Auburn 76
  • #4 Alabama 109, #13 Charleston 96

And here are the scores from the women’s tournament.

  • #11 Arizona 69, #11 Auburn 59
  • #8 Alabama 82, #9 Florida State 74

Take a look at how fans celebrated their teams’ appearances in the big dance plus see what you need to know for the teams who will play again this weekend.

Alabama claims two wins Friday

The Crimson Tide held its official watch party at Baumhower’s North in Tuscaloosa for both the men’s and women’s first round games which were back-to-back Friday evening.

The women got the party started, using a big third quarter to take down Florida State, 82-74. It’s the Crimson Tide’s second tournament win in the last four seasons under coach Kristy Curry.

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Alabama Alabama Head Coach Kristy Curry poses for a photo with a fan during The March Madness Selection show in the CM Newton Recruiting room in Coleman Coliseum. (Alabama WBB)

Shortly after the women’s game ended, fans stuck around and got to see tip off of the Alabama men’s game against Charleston. The Crimson Tide built a double-digit lead in the first half and never looked back before finishing off a 109-96 victory.

Both Alabama teams advance to the Round of 32, playing again Sunday with tip off times still to be determined.

Tiger fans pack out Back Forty despite first round loss

Auburn Watch Party
Auburn fans at Back Forty Beer Company in Birmingham to watch the first round game against Yale. (Caleb Turrentine / The Bama Buzz)

If you were trying to find somewhere to watch Auburn take on Yale in the first round of the tournament, you likely struggled to find space inside Back Forty Beer Company. Tiger fans were wall-to-wall in both big rooms but those fans could only look on as Auburn could not hold off the Bulldogs, falling 78-76.

The Tigers led most of the game, including holding a 10-point lead with less than eight minutes to go. After Yale came back, Auburn had multiple chances in the final minute but missed three free throws in the final 10 seconds and missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Prior to Friday, the Tigers had not lost in the first round of the tournament since 1984. Auburn still finished the season with a 27-8 record which included winning its first SEC Tournament title since 2019.

UAB falls short of upset

Fans at Bartow Arena had plenty of reasons to celebrate Friday afternoon as their team battled with #5 San Diego State. The Blazers trailed by double digits early in the second half but stormed back to tie the game with just over 10 minutes to go on a 3-pointer from Butta Johnson, getting a big reaction from the fans back home.

UAB fans react to a game-tying 3-pointer

The Blazers would even hold a lead with just over six minutes to go but San Diego State eventually pulled back ahead and stopped a potential game-tying shot from Johnson with 11 seconds left in the game. The Aztecs held on for a 69-65 win, ending UAB’s season.

UAB still finished with 23 wins and claimed the American Athletic Conference tournament championship in its first season in the conference.

Uab Aac Trophy
The AAC tournament championship trophy at Bartow Arena. (Caleb Turrentine / The Bama Buzz)

Incorrect foul call sends Samford home

Samford also fell just short of its upset bid against #4 Kansas in a game in Salt Lake City Thursday night. And while the Bulldogs season may have ended in the first round, they certainly had plenty of neutral fans across the country cheering them on.

Especially after this block was called a foul in a one-point game. Kansas eventually won the game 93-89.

People across the country were on Samford’s side. The Bulldogs had erased a 22-point Kansas lead and was inching closer to one of the all-time great March moments. Their run will likely be remembered for a long time but now, it’ll be remembered for a foul call rather than a Samford victory.

Samford’s season ended with its first tournament appearance since 2000 but it is still searching for its first ever win in the big dance.

Samford Fans
Samford fans gathered in Homewood to watch the Selection Show with the basketball team Sunday. (Caleb Turrentine / The Bama Buzz)

What to know for the weekend

We may have been robbed of a UAB-Auburn matchup this weekend but the Crimson Tide has two teams still in play. Details on potential watch parties around the state will be added later.

Here’s what to know for their matchups Sunday.

  • Who: #8 Alabama women vs. #1 Texas
  • When: Sunday, 5 p.m.
  • Where: Austin, Texas
  • Watch: ESPN
  • Who: #4 Alabama men vs. #12 Grand Canyon
  • When: Sunday, 6:10 p.m.
  • Where: Spokane, Washington
  • Watch: TBS

Were you out watching the first round games somewhere Friday? Post it on social media and tag us at The Bama Buzz FacebookLinkedInTwitter, + Instagram!

Caleb Turrentine
Caleb Turrentine
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