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So Close...

I will start this post out by saying that I have never watched so much NIT basketball in my 32 years of existence.  I have always been in the camp that thought the NIT was stupid, because if you won it, it only showed that you were the 66th best team in the land.  I was that way more than likely because if Auburn had a pretty good program, we made it to the NCAAs or we made it to the NIT and lost in the first round.  Our Tigers have been very good at that in the past.  


On to the real stuff… There are much more competitive games in the NIT than the first couple of days of the NCAAs.  Starting with 32 teams instead of 65 is a great thing in my opinion.  There is not a 1 playing a 16.  That is not ever going to happen (and yes I did watch Pitt try to blow it).  Every game has been fun to watch, that Kentucky vs. Creighton game was fun.  The Auburn vs. Baylor game was a battle as well.  Hell, Penn State needed overtime to beat their fist round opponent, George Mason. 


Now on to the reason you are here today… Auburn last night played hard, and the first half had almost everything you could want in a game… a loud crowd, a technical foul, and a comeback with the Tigers raining threes.  Baylor was the real deal.  They can flat out play.  They had the do it all kid in Dunn who shot the lights out in the first half… well before he got hurt on the layup. 


In the second half, it just seemed like every time Auburn had a chance to tie or take the lead, we just could not get it done.  Baylor’s size was a problem… Hargrove, Sullivan, and Waller could not drive at all.  Barrett was not afraid, but the size of Baylor’s big men would cause an altered shot.  It just was not to be.


You know what they say; you cannot win if you cannot hit your free throws.  Auburn, as we have known all year, cannot hit free throws.  I am sure that DeWayne Reed is feeling like he let the team down, but it is a team effort.  No one hit their free throws last night other than Robertson.  Somehow he was perfect, after being a 61% shooter over the course of the season.   As a team we shot 62% and Baylor shot 76% from the stripe.  That was the difference.


In the final seconds Barrett had a great look at a three, but he missed it.  Personally I am glad that a senior took the shot.  He was the MVP for Auburn in this game.  War Damn Eagle goes out to the entire team; you guys were left for dead in January.  No one thought you could do what you did.  Baylor is a great team, and you can carry your heads up high knowing that you achieved more than anyone thought you could.  Coach Lebo did a great job of getting you guys prepared, and it gives AU Basketball a foundation going into next season.  We lose a lot of scoring power… but Sullivan, Hargrove, Waller, Reed will be back.


My hat is off to you, any Auburn team that can go 24-12, is a winner in my book.


War Damn Eagle.