It was Super Tuesday, Senior Night, and Sirenpalooza as a tornado passed through Lee County and Donald Trump swept through the state.
The craziness couldn't continue, though, as Auburn (11-18, 5-12 SEC) dropped tonight's game against Texas A&M (23-7, 12-5 SEC) 81-63.
Auburn honored five seniors tonight: Tyler Harris, Cinmeon Bowers, Jordon Granger, Cole Stockton, and Jonathan Walker. The game started out hot for Auburn, who kept pace with the quick and feisty Aggies. It wasn't enough, though, and Auburn lost the fire in the second half. Texas A&M never looked back on the way to a victory and a first-place spot retained in conference standings.
The Tigers were led by Tyler Harris, who had 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Bryce Brown started hot with a couple of threes but ultimately finished 2-8 from the arc. Horace Spencer impressed with 7 points, a block, and a nice jam in the first half. Jordon Granger finished Senior Night with 10 points, 4 rebounds, a steal, and a block.
T.J. Dunans, who is still shaking off the rust from a season-impacting injury, ended the night with 8 points, 7 assists, and 2 rebounds.
The Aggies ended the night with 21 offensive rebounds and shot over 90% from the free throw line. Danuel House and and Jalen Jones led the Aggies with 19 and 16 points, respectively. Tyler Davis added 14 points and 9 rebounds, and Alex Caruso had a team-leading 7 assists.
Let's break it down...
If you were at the game, bless you, because you had to endure the incessant dinging that was Auburn Arena's malfunctioning alarm system. Due to a small tornado that passed through Lee County during the first half, every five seconds was blessed with a ding. Here's how Twitter took it:
Somebody let me know when the dinging stops. Gonna be listening to @VoiceofAUTigers on delay until then— Austin Phillips (@ScoopPhillips) March 2, 2016
WILL SOMEONE AT THE ARENA ACKNOWLEDGE THAT DAMN TEXT— AubExpat (@AubExpat) March 2, 2016
Yeah, so not fun.
On the court, the bells didn't seem to bother the Tigers, who started hot and led A&M most of the first half. Senior Jordon Granger led the Tigers with 8 points and 2 rebounds, and at halftime, both teams were tied at 33 apiece.
Gosh, thank goodness. The alarm bells stopped.
Unfortunately, so did Auburn's scoring run. A&M answered early with a 12-0 run that included a Cinmeon Bowers technical foul. It wasn't until inside 16 minutes that Auburn scored on a Dunans roll-in. It was followed on the next Tigers possession by a hard Tyler Harris drive that led to a converted and-one. Auburn was able to stop the bleeding momentarily at the first media timeout of the second half as A&M led 45-38.
Oh, so I lied earlier. The bells actually came back in the second half, and while Texas A&M looked as if they would run away with this game, Auburn hung around...for a while.
In the end, though, A&M was able to get way more second chances off boards. They also started hitting threes and getting to the free throw line (and, you know, making a ton of free throws...they shot 92.3% from the charity stripe). The Aggies' opening scoring run slowed down a bit at times, but ultimately, they were able to grab the lead and maintain it for the rest of the game.
Auburn never quit, though, and that's what I've enjoyed all year despite a snake-bitten season.
Three Things We Learned
1. STEALS AND BLOCKS AND DUNKS, OH MY!
Auburn started this game hot. I mean, it was like watching a completely different team out there. The Tigers had an energy tonight that we haven't seen much of all season. Bryce Brown hit a couple of threes early—including one that came off a Dunans steal from an A&M inbound pass:
Horace Spencer and Tyler Harris got blocks and scored points in the paint. It was a good start. Oh, and Horace Spencer had this jam:
It just wasn't enough. After going into halftime tied at 33, A&M started scoring and kept scoring. Auburn just couldn't find an answer. Once again, we were left with what might've been with a healthier lineup all season. Nevertheless, the first half was entertaining to watch.
Er, for the most part...
2. "Every time a bell rings, an A&M player gets his wings...er, rebounds."
Texas A&M put on a rebounding clinic tonight—it was actually kind of embarrassing how many rebounds they were getting. Any time a team gets that many second chances on offense, it demoralizes the other team. It was certainly frustrating to watch Auburn miss those boards. By the final whistle, A&M out-rebounded Auburn 51-27.
In addition to rebounds, Texas A&M had converted every Auburn turnover into points going into the last 8 minutes of the game. That's a dagger.
It wouldn't be as bad if the bells weren't still ringing into the second half. They seemed to stop (for the most part) with around ten minutes left in the game.
3. We're going to miss these seniors.
Cinmeon Bowers has taught us, um, patience. Yeah, patience. Love him or hate him, he's contributed to this team's success. If you don't believe that, remember that we split a series with Bama this season. Tyler Harris came in, provided great support in the paint, and had a great attitude all season despite injuries and frustrating losses. And oh my goodness, Jordon Granger. I'll miss you most of all. You've developed so much in the four years you've been here, and while this season wasn't exactly a storybook ending for you, it was an opportunity for us to watch you make threes and help this team win some games. Cole and Jonathan, we didn't see a lot of y'all, but we're grateful for your contributions, too.
These and the rest of our Tigers never stop playing. They don't quit. I respect them for that.
Thank you, seniors, for everything. War Damn Eagle.
Here's hoping for some more magic in the SEC Tournament.
Auburn closes out the regular season on Saturday against Mississippi State in Starkville at 1:30 pm CT. We'll have your preview and recap here, as usual.
War Damn Eagle.