After the Auburn Men's Basketball team defeated LSU Saturday, Coach Tony Barbee said his team was, "Going into the (SEC) Conference Tournament, no matter what the match up, thinking we are going to go in and win the whole thing."
It always amazes me what a shot of winning can do for a team's psyche. Auburn has had an up and down season this year, hindered by injuries and suspensions; yet the Tigers, sparked by their 67-52 win over LSU, appear to be headed into today's SEC Tournament game with Ole Miss pumped and ready to play.
Only problem is, the Rebels (18-12) should also be pumped after ending their season with three straight SEC wins including a 60-51 victory over Alabama Saturday in Oxford.
If the two team's previous meetings are any indication, it should be a heck of a game. A total of only eight points separated the two with Auburn taking a 69-68 double overtime win on Jan. 14 at home and Ole Miss overcoming a 11-point deficit to defeat the Tigers 61-54 in Oxford on Feb. 11.
Coach Barbee said his Tigers (15-15) arrived in the Big Easy with a lot of confidence. "Crazier things have happened, we have seen them in other leagues, and we have seen them in this league as recently as Georgia. No matter what you did all year long or no matter the type of team you were, records are thrown out the window."
He acknowledged that his Tigers never really got over the hump this year but added, "We have played well against everybody in this league."
Auburn's chances today hinge on three things: how well the defense can contain Ole Miss's big front line, especially big man Terrance Henry. He's a 6-foot-10 small forward that plays like a shooting guard with an ability to play both inside and out.
Then the Tigers have to win the rebounding/ turnover battles and be more efficient with free throw shooting - an area that has plagued the Tigers all season.
Should the Tigers beat the Rebel Bears, they will face an even bigger challenge on Friday night when the winner of today's game goes up against No. 2 seed Tennessee.
But first things first - Ole Miss has to be dealt with today. Tip off for the game is at 6:30 p.m.CST and will be broadcast on SEC Network / ESPN3.
War Eagle & Beat Ole Miss!