The Tigers came home on short rest and lost 58-54 to Coastal Carolina on a homecoming for former Auburn head coach and noted beach music singer, Cliff Ellis. This loss was disappointing because Auburn held a lead for almost the entire game before melting late. This wasn’t a bad Coastal Carolina team, but it was Auburn’s game to win and we couldn’t put it away. What did we learn tonight?
1. Fatigue Makes Cowards of Us All – Auburn looked tired tonight. They arrived back from Lubbock, Texas early Thursday morning, had a full day of class, then faced a home game the next day. If you’ve played sports, you’ve been there. When you’re tired, technique suffers. We played our sloppiest game of the season. Auburn has depth issues. Cinmeon Bowers is pretty much Auburn’s only option down low and he looks like a man who has drug 270 pounds up and down the court 35 minutes a night. He isn’t fighting as hard for rebounds or actively contesting inbound passes under the basket. I don’t want to harp too much on Bowers who has been a great addition to this team. But he needs help down low or he’s going to wear himself out. Our guards made a lot of errors, dribbling into pressure and making soft passes across the court against zones that led to easy turnovers. Coastal Carolina out rebounded us by double digits and fought harder for loose balls. Auburn had a chance at a turnover late in the game off a press and just couldn’t control the ball.The difference tonight was Auburn's inability to hit free throws. The Tigers went 9-19 from the charity stripe and lost by four.
2. Don’t Tug on Superman’s Cape – KT Harrell is amazing. He was on fire from behind the arc and scored 23 points on the night. That said, we need Antoine Mason to come back or Cinmeon Bowers to step up. KT cannot be our only option. No other Tiger reached double-digits in scoring tonight. With Mason, Auburn beats both Texas Tech and Coastal Carolina and the season feels different.
3. This Place Was Made Great Long Before You Got Here (At Least Briefly) – It was fun seeing the highlights of the old Cliff Ellis Auburn teams tonight. It’s an exciting reminder that Auburn has supported winning basketball before. Those days are coming again. But at 3-4 we have a lot of work to do.
As an aside, Chanticleer is an awesome mascot. Obviously, it's a reference to The Canterbury Tales but it reminds me of my favorite Elvis-themed adaptation of The Canterbury Tales, Rock-A-Doodle:
Auburn gets nine days of much needed rest before traveling to face another one of Cliff Ellis’ former teams, Clemson. This game is important to the Tigers as it and Xavier are the last two opponents Auburn will be underdogs to before moving into the conference schedule. If we can steal one or both of these games and get out of the nonconference schedule at 8-5, we’ll be in good shape as we enter the second half of the season.
Until December 14, in Auburn with a lake, our time’s up, we thank you for yours. Good night and War Eagle everybody.