No Bert, no ANDY, no problem.
The SEC officials still found a way to turn tonight's game between the Razorbacks and the Tigers into a Picasso painting—open to interpretation.
Arkansas (19-5, 8-3 SEC) broke the century mark in points tonight defeating Auburn (11-13, 3-8 SEC) 101-87 at Auburn Arena. It wasn't in front of the typically raucous crowd that the Tigers have enjoyed at home all season, but that might've been due to the sleepy nature of the pace of play. Questionable calls and lengthy reviews at the scorer's table turned the first half alone into a 75-minute affair. Fans at home were likely already asleep by the time it was announced that the first half also saw 32 total fouls.
Thirty. Two. Total. Fouls.
Give Arkansas credit—they simply couldn't miss tonight. Points in the paint, point from behind the arc, and points at the free-throw line. The Razorbacks had all of their bases covered. Auburn simply couldn't find its defense in transition, and when they were able to set up in coverage, Arkansas still sunk rainbows above the outstretched arms of the Tigers' wingspans.
KT Harrell and K.C. Ross Miller were both on fire for the Tigers tonight with 21 points each. Their efforts certainly helped answer what appeared to be a shooting riot by Arkansas in the first half (the score at halftime: 58-47, Razorbacks). It simply wasn't enough, though, as all but two players on the Arkansas roster had at least 2 points in the game. Bobby Portis led the Hogs with 22 total points, being one of four starters with double-digit points. Meanwhile on the other side of the court, Tahj Shamsid-Deen left early in the first half with what appeared to be another shoulder injury, Jordon Granger laid a goose egg on the stat sheet, and Cinmeon Bowers failed to collect his 15th double-double of the season. Overall, it was just a matter of the better team beating a squad that still has some improving to do.
Bruce can be pleased with the Tigers' effort, though, as his players showed throughout the night that they weren't going to quit, no matter how late the final whistle would blow. For fans watching at home, we don't blame you for calling it a night early.
Wait, yes we do. SHAME ON YOU.
In order to avoid keeping you up past 11:30 or so, here's what we learned:
1. Auburn's bench is thin, and it showed tonight.
With Tahj Shamsid-Deen leaving the game early after nagging an already injured shoulder, the Tigers couldn't find any consistent rhythm in transition or in the paint. Without the shifty point guard in Shamsid-Deen, Auburn had to rely on K.C. Ross-Miller and Malcolm Canada, the latter of whom still struggled at times to handle the ball cleanly on fast breaks. Ross-Miller and Canada might as well have been in the starting line-up tonight because of Shamsid-Deen's physical absence and Jordon Granger's mental absence.
Exclude their points as bench players, and Auburn's bench was only responsible for 12 points to the Hogs' 25.
Almost the entire Razorback roster was on the scoresheet tonight, and it certainly helped to have fresh legs throughout the night as the calls from the officials got worse. It was a mismatch that Auburn struggled to keep up with all night long.
One positive takeaway: TJ Lang. The freshman made two of his three shots behind the arc and went 75% at the line (3/4). Plenty of potential for him and other young players—both currently on the roster and incoming for Pearl's 2016 class.
2. For whatever strange reason, our SEC opponents shoot lights-out when they come to Auburn Arena.
Prove me wrong on this one. Even when Auburn is able to shoot consistently, it seems that Auburn's opponents pick up record shooting nights whenever they visit the Plains. Arkansas was already a good shooting team, but tonight it shot a 53.8% in FG and went 80% at the line. The Hogs were also able to outscore Auburn in the paint, especially in the first half (22 to Auburn's 8).
Even when Auburn is able to get in position to contest open 3's, teams like Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and others have found ways to put on a shooting clinic in Auburn Arena. Is it too late to move everyone back to Beard-Eaves for the Iron Ball?
3. Solid officiating is at an all-time low, and Auburn is suffering for it.
BARN'S PAYIN' THE REFS
If you're the kind of person that can tune this out on the Twitterverse, props to you, and please share with us your secret sauce. We won't dilute it and sell it online for twice the cost of production or anything...
Seriously, if you weren't on the bandwagon already, it's time to pack up and ford the river before you die of dysentery. Jim Burr had a field day for bad calls tonight, and it was the cherry on top for many fans in the Arena. The moans, groans, and boos, which were louder than the cheering all night, paint you a complete picture of how terrible officiating was tonight.
While Auburn just needs to play a more complete game, they're not getting much help from the zebras. Not sure what to expect moving forward, but with a rivalry game against Alabama next week at home, there aren't enough prayers in Jordan-Hare to ensure a fairly officiated game...heaven forbid a little home cooking, for once.
Annnddddd before the McRib...IT'S BACK. Your in-game tweets. Don't stop, get it, get it, Auburn Twitter folks.*
*We regret to inform our loyal readers that at the time this line was written, it was in draft form, and it was halfway into the first half, which lasted longer than the four Ages of Man in the Tolkien Universe. Needless to say, this recap's author felt it necessary to enact a "winner-take-all" policy for tonight's tweets. Here's your winner:
AUBURN VS. ARKANSAS TWEET (SINGULAR):
Congrats to @whduncan for this gem, which spoke more about the duration of tonight's game than anything...or did it???
@bobby_barkley When he gets under the basket with pressure, he turns into Cinmeyawn Bowers— Dunc City (@whduncan) February 11, 2015
To the rest of you: STEP UP YOUR TWEET GAME, SON.
The Tigers will travel to Athens on Saturday to face another good team in the Georgia Bulldogs. War Damn Eagle.