I'll be honest, I did NOT see this coming. It wasn't until just before game time that Auburn announced Antoine Mason was returning to the team to play, though he would not start. Tahj Shamsid-Deen is now out for the season and needs surgery on his shoulders.
The expectations were that the Tigers would not be able to handle the Bulldogs. Georgia's RPI is 22. They will very likely be in the NCAA Tournament. The game was in Athens.
However, someone forgot to tell Bruce Pearl and his team that this was likely a lost cause. And they made all of us who felt that way look really stupid.
Auburn went through hot and cold stretches in this game, starting strong and then cooling off as they have in almost every game. Auburn's big men were in foul trouble early in the game. At one point in the second half they let UGA get out to a nine point lead and momentum seemed to be swinging heavily in favor of the home team.
But, again, this team fought back from a big second half deficit. KT Harrell was not dismayed by the constant boos by the UGA crowd and finished with 21 points. KC Ross-Miller knocked down 17 points. Auburn just refused to give up.
Three Things We Learned:
1) Never count this team out.
Bruce Pearl's Tigers have fought back from multiple large second half deficits this season. They may not have won every one of those games, but they've fought. To come out of Athens with this win today without Shamsid-Deen and Mason having not practiced all week shows just what they're capable of.
2) Every game is winnable (except maybe the Kentucky game).
Bruce Pearl wasn't kidding when he stated the other day that this team can beat anyone else they play this season (though he did add that "except Kentucky"). Without Tahj, it gets a bit harder, but it's still possible. KC Ross-Miller had an excellent game, today, and Auburn will need him to continue to play like that.
3) Auburn basketball will not allow you to have an easy win.
This can intentionally be read two ways. I could be saying they will not allow "you" the opponent to have an easy win, because they fight hard all the time. I could also be saying they will not allow "you" the Auburn fan to have an easy win that you can relax and enjoy as it goes down the final stretch.
Anyone else have nightmares of last season's Florida game when that final inbound pass went sailing over everyone's head and out of bounds on the other side of the court? Every win is big at this point as the Tigers fight to prevent Bruce Pearl from having his first losing season as a head coach. It's also likely that every win is going to come down to the wire like this one did.
It's Great To Be An Auburn Tiger
What a day. Auburn planted new oak trees at Toomer's Corner, and the basketball team gets a huge win on the road. They will return home to face rival Alabama on Tuesday evening at Auburn Arena. War Eagle, Always.