I posed on Twitter yesterday that it might be fun for me to write the previews I have remaining before I retire in a celebrity's voice. I got back several suggestions, but ultimately, my voice is the one I went with, so I apologize, Christopher, WAL-ken for...you knOow...RUining...a perfectly, good chance to, you know, talk, LIKE you.
Tonight is Senior Night for Auburn Basketball. That means it's time to honor the guys who will ball one last time on the Auburn Arena hardwood before they move on from the program. Those guys include Tyler Harris, Cinmeon Bowers, Jordon Granger, Cole Stockton, and Jonathan Walker.
I will personally miss Tyler Harris a bunch. The kid has had some struggles this season, but he's kept his head up, and if you follow him on Twitter, you know how much he appreciates the Auburn fan base. I will also miss Jordon Granger, and I have to thank his biggest fan, @runyogasurf, for getting me emotionally investing in this young man. He has matured immensely over the last few years, and I'll always remember that sweet spot of his at the arc before sinking numerous threes.
SOME STRRRRIIINGGG MUSIC, as Joe Dean Jr. would say.
It's been kind of a different year for this team and these players and their coach. After the inspiring run in last season's SEC Tournament, it was tough to watch injury after injury decimate this promising, young lineup, but what I appreciate is that these guys never quit. They never quit fighting.
One of the things I'm grateful to this team for is the UAB game. I watched us beat the Blazers back in the fall with some fellow CollegeandMag friends and my brother—a sophomore now at Auburn—and it was one of the best basketball games I've ever seen in person...maybe ever. The Arena was packed. The game was dynamite. The atmosphere was on another level. I've never been so pleased with having to stand in the mezzanine level for the whole game.
Tyler Harris and Cinmeon Bowers getting boards and scoring in the paint.
T.J. Dunans running like a wild man up and down the court in transition.
Kareem Canty scoring buckets.
TJ Lang scoring the game-winning three.
The rest of the season overall just wasn't quite as magical, but there were some magic moments. Wins against Coastal Carolina, New Mexico, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia...this team never quit fighting. That's all you can really ask for in a season like this.
So tonight, honor the guys that stayed the course and helped us get to this moment. Without their efforts, this team wouldn't have a prayer. They deserve our recognition and appreciation.
Tonight's opponent is the Texas A&M Aggies (22-7, 11-5 SEC). A&M is ranked first in the conference with a head-to-head advantage over Kentucky (the team they beat last weekend). The Tigers (11-17, 5-11 SEC) will have their hands full trying to contain A&M's top shooters in senior guards Jalen Jones and Danuel House, who are averaging 15.7 and 15.4 points per game, respectively. Dynamic senior guard Alex Caruso leads the team in assists with 4.9 per game.
Getting T.J. Dunans back from injury has been a huge boost for Auburn. Despite a loss to Ole Miss in his return, Dunans helped Auburn beat Georgia at home before a loss to Alabama in Tuscaloosa. It's been tough for him to shake off the rust, but it's clear that his contributions make this a more complete team, and Bruce Pearl has been adamant about that.
He'll likely be the difference tonight, as well. A&M is a very fundamental team, but they're also fast in transition and can shoot the three. Their guard play is spectacular, and they bring years of experience to the starting lineup. Auburn did find a way to beat this team last season in the SEC Tournament, and several of those same players will be on the floor tonight for both teams, but with an incomplete lineup, it'll be an uphill battle for Auburn—even with Dunans back in the lineup.
Harris and Dunans now lead the scoring for Auburn with 13.7 and 11.7 points per game, respectively, and Cinmeon Bowers continues to rack up double-doubles. Bryce Brown continues to improve at the three point line, and Horace Spencer is growing into a beast in front of our very eyes. If TJ Lang and Jordon Granger can contribute three point shots early, don't count out the Tigers just yet.
Get to the Arena early, be loud, and stay late. Show your appreciation for the seniors that helped this program when times got tough—in those times when your friend that bought season tickets hardly used them.
Oh, and before you do any of that tonight, make sure you go vote today. Make your voice heard. Exercise your right to cast a ballot.
War Damn Eagle (and democracy).
How to Watch:
Auburn vs. Texas A&M
When: 8:00 PM CT
Watch: SEC Network
Listen: Auburn IMG Network
Radio Affiliates: 100.5 FM (Birmingham), 94.3 FM (Auburn), 1230 AM (Huntsville), 106.5 FM (Mobile), 92.3 FM (Montgomery)