When you look back on this season at a later date, the defining play of the year for me will be Chuma Okeke’s 3-pointer with 30 seconds left against Georgia that changed the season for Auburn entirely.
Ballgame. Auburn wins 78-75. Chuma Okeke hits a go-ahead 3-pointer with 22 seconds left. Auburn has now beaten Georgia back-to-back years in Athens for the first time since 1979-80. pic.twitter.com/vpWZ1EhRPk— Nathan King (@byNathanKing) February 28, 2019
Two weeks ago, Auburn fans were in a state of panic. The Tigers had been blown out in Lexington and people were really beginning to wonder if this was an NCAA Tournament team. They were looking at an 8-9 matchup in the SEC Tournament (and NCAA Tournament) and most likely, a 3rd game against Alabama, something I wanted no part of, especially if an NCAA Tournament berth would be on the line.
Fast forward 2 weeks: a last-possession win at Georgia and 3 straight Q1 wins to close out the season against Mississippi State, Alabama and Tennessee. Now, the Tigers are a LOCK to make the NCAA Tournament for the 2nd straight year and could go as high as a 4 or 5 seed depending on how this week turns out. I think ultimately, Auburn will end up as a 6 seed but considering how things looked not too long ago, I’ll take that in a heartbeat.
It’s also worth nothing that if Auburn had lost to Tennessee on Saturday, then we would be seeing Auburn-Alabama III on Thursday night and after all of the celebration from beating Alabama last Tuesday night from players and fans alike, I would have been really nervous about that one for Auburn. In addition, Alabama is in a must win Thursday night or else they’ll likely be playing in the NIT next week so that makes me even more thankful we avoided that matchup.
Now we’ll look ahead to the next task at hand: the SEC Tournament in Nashville. Here’s a look at the SEC Tournament bracket:
Auburn will start on Thursday as a #5 seed and face the winner of Missouri/Georgia Thursday afternoon at around 2:30PM. Missouri and Georgia will kick of the SEC Tournament at 6PM tonight on the SEC Network. Auburn defeated Missouri 92-58 on January 30th and beat Georgia 93-78 on January 12th and 78-75 on February 27th.
If Auburn wins that game, they will move on to face Chris Silva and the South Carolina Gamecocks on Friday afternoon. The good news for Auburn is that game won’t be in Colonial Life Arena so hopefully, that game could have a different outcome.
If Auburn wins that game, it might get a rematch with LSU, or an upstart Florida or Arkansas team. The bottom line is this: Auburn got a really good draw in the SEC Tournament bracket. Regardless of what happens, Auburn wouldn’t see either Kentucky or Tennessee until the Championship on Sunday assuming Auburn gets that far. With the way Auburn is playing now, anything is possible. War Eagle!