Well last night was fun… well fun for every one except Auburn’s SGA President. For the first time in 6 years the Auburn SGA President had to sing the Alabama Fight Song, because Auburn lost the Iron Bowl this past season. The good news is that someone in Coleman Coliseum actually knew the words to the Alabama Fight Song… that is another gripe of mine for another day. It is always fun, no matter what sport it is to watch Auburn beat Alabama on national TV. Thanks ESPN for making me smile again.
On to basketball… Auburn has played inspired ball since February started, and seem to be trying to keep it going into March. The Tigers are winners of 7 of their last 8, with our only loss coming to LSU at LSU, where Auburn played hard but was beaten by a great team. ESPN picked up the game last night which in my mind is a reward for all the stellar play over the last month. Auburn has 20 wins now, and is a lock for the NIT. With another building win on Saturday, this one over the 11th ranked Purple Tigers, it could put Auburn in the discussions for the Big Dance. I still think that we would need to at least get to the finals of the SEC Tourney, more than likely win it to get in. I will give Auburn the old fashion “Pick Em” for the line on Saturday. It is a must win… which they all seem to be now.
No one and I mean no one thought that the game last night would amount to anything one month ago. Lebo looked like a lame duck coach, and Auburn seemed to have fallen to the bottom of the SEC again, after getting blown out by Ole Miss. Some how, Lebo got his guys ready and Waller and Barber seemed to wake up. One month later, the entire team has woken up… DeWayne Reed is playing well, freshman Frankie Sullivan finally is shooting well again, and Brendon Knox might be the key right now. He is giving Barber the rest needed to keep playing at his high level. If we could hit free throws, I would put us against any team right now. We are hot. I would even go so far as to say that we are the second best team in the SEC right now. No one would want to face us in the SEC Tourney.
Bama was on a 3 game streak of their own, they had just thrown a beat down on Ole Miss in Oxford. Bama was raining threes all over the place. The Rebels were never in it. Coach Pearson was trying to work his magic and get the Tide ready to pull the upset. They came out fired up along with the Tide Fans. Coleman was packed, and loud.
Auburn was having a really hard time with Bama’s size. The Tide seemed to get every rebound, but somehow Auburn hung around. Whether it was the speed and hustle of Auburn, or the fact that Bama went cold and also could not hit a free throw… I cannot say for sure. But what I can say is that Auburn was down 13 and did not take a second half lead 6 and a half minutes left in the game. The three ball was no where to be found for the Tigers until then and up until that they had to rely on truly battling for every loose ball. When the three ball started falling… boy it came in bunches.
Auburn was up 8 with just under 4 minutes left. That’s when Bama started going back inside and the fans came alive again. The game was tied with 1:01 remaining. Both teams battled and Auburn just had a bit more. For what it is worth, I will concede that the officiating was questionable, but at least the officials were not one sided.
Auburn showed me that they had guts last night. They played hard and fought valiantly, and it paid off in the end. Free Throws were the difference late. Auburn finished the game with 7-11 from the charity stripe. I have to agree with Brad Nessler… Auburn is one tough team, we are scrappy
Now we look toward LSU on Saturday. Let’s get some fans in the seats, and show that we are proud of our Tigers for sticking it out this season. 10 wins in the SEC would be huge.
EDIT TO ADD... Did anyone think that Nessler and Dykes did a pretty good job of giving Auburn some props for NCAA considerations? They compared us to teams that in my opinion were going to get in, and against teams that were obviously not going to get in... it just seems like we have not done enough without beating LSU and getting another "signature" win. I really liked the "blind resume test" that was done late in the game, comparing Auburn, Penn State, and Virginia Tech. The only disadvantage we had was the record vs Top 25. If we beat LSU we would improve there... too bad the SEC is so down this season.
War Damn Lebo