Former Knick Anthony Mason lost a hard-fought battle with congestive heart failure earlier this morning. As the Tigers prepare for tonight's match-up with Texas A&M in College Station, they'll be without Antoine, who left for New York earlier this week to be with his father and around the rest of his family. College and Magnolia and the entire Auburn family extend their prayers and condolences to a fantastic player and a wonderful group of people as they begin to cope with the loss of a father and husband.
On the court today, it'll be another road trip for the Tigers (12-16, 4-11 SEC) against a talented opponent in the Texas A&M Aggies (19-8, 10-5 SEC). However, despite Auburn's larger basketball woes this season, the Tigers have a 2-1 record on the road in the last three games, with the loss coming from Kentucky in Lexington last weekend (with wins against LSU and Georgia). Bruce Pearl has yet another opportunity to make a statement with another road win tonight, but it will be difficult without Mason and an already-thin bench.
As for what to expect tonight? This season has been largely disappointing, so in terms of key match-up's and the X's & O's of the game, it's "anything goes." When the Aggies visited Auburn Arena in late January, it was the Danuel House show as he scored 22 points and went 6-7 in three-point shooting. On the other side of the court, Auburn's KT Harrell struggled to make an impact, and without any consistent defense from the Tigers, it was open season for A&M's shooting. Recently, though, KT Harrell has played with more consistency. Mason has posted several impressive lines in the last few games as well, which makes losing him even more impactful for tonight's match-up.
It'll be up to KT (who, as fans already know, hit the 1000-point mark for Auburn against Alabama two weeks ago) to pick up the slack and energize a Tigers team that desperately needs some momentum as it starts to prepare for the upcoming SEC tournament. Keys to the game will be solid shooting, consistent transition defense, and smarter play from guys like Cinmeon Bowers and Malcolm Canada.
It's hard to discount these players with the amount of fight they bring each night (despite a rather boring showing against LSU at home earlier this week), but regardless, tonight's game will not be an easy one. It's time for the Tigers to, as Katy Perry would say, "Go and show 'em what you're worth."
When: 7:30 PM CDT
Watch: SEC Network
Stream: WatchESPN / ESPN3
Listen: Auburn IMG Network