If you didn't know better, you would have sworn Auburn was playing for a shot at the NCAA Tournament Wednesday night at home against Ole Miss. Never has a 3-12 conference record felt so good.
"With our record, we shouldn't have 500 fans in here," said first year coach Tony Barbee. "If they didn't show up, I wouldn't be mad at them."
Are you kidding? Win or lose, these guys are the best show in town. The script is all too familiar now. Hang tough early in the first half, fall way behind in the second half and then rally for a nail biter down the stretch. Rinse and repeat.
The only difference Wednesday was the outcome. Auburn's 20-point come from behind win over the Rebels showed just how exciting college basketball can be at the Auburn Arena.
The one constant through this disappointing season has been the students. Give props to Barbee and the Auburn administration for not only providing students with the best seats in the house, but also for making them feel part of the program.
This effort alone will translate into more big wins once the talent at Auburn catches up with the enthusiasm. With seats that are practically court level, students have taken ownership in carrying this team.
It's strange to say, but at this point, you hate to see the season end.
Auburn (10-19, 3-12) travels to Baton Rouge tonight to play its final regular season game of the year. A win means a fifth place finish in the SEC West. Not bad for a group that was called by some the worst SEC team in history back in January.
"This team has shown fight," Barbee said. "It's not the same team from the first game of year. It's not even the same team as the first game of the SEC.
"I appreciate them. They have given me everything they've got. (The losing record) can beat you down. These guys have not been beaten down."
Auburn and LSU enter tonight's game with identical 3-12 conference marks. Auburn fell to LSU in its conference opener 62-55 back on January 8th, a game that will be remembered for Auburn scoring only six points in the first half.
Playing LSU as season bookends will be an easy way to measure this Auburn team's progress.
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT from Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge. The game will be televised by Fox Sports.
PLAY THE MARCH TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AND YOU COULD WIN A TRIP FOR TWO TO LAS VEGAS! LOOK FOR THE CODE INSIDE SPECIALLY-MARKED PACKAGES 12-PACKS OF BUD LIGHT ENTER CODE AT FACEBOOOK.COM/BUDLIGHT ----- No Purchase Necessary. Open to U.S. residents (except CA & TX) 21+. For a chance to win a Grand or First Prize, Game Period 1 begins 3PM CST on 2/14 & ends 3PM CDT on 3/18. For a chance to win a First Prize only, Game Period 2 begins 3:00:01PM CDT on 3/18 & ends 3PM CDT on 4/30. To participate, obtain a Code from inside specially-marked packages of Bud Light beer or to request a Code without purchase, visit budlight.com/freecode during a Game Period. Limit one (1) free Code request/day/person or email address. To play, text HOOPS to BEERS (23377) & follow prompts or visit budlight.com/freecode & follow instructions. See Official Rules inside package or at budlight.com/freecode for complete details. Void in CA, TX & where prohibited. Enjoy Responsibly – ©2011 Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Bud Light® Beer, St. Louis, MO