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45 Days to Tip-Off - An Explosion in the Early Bruce Years

Seems like a billion years ago.

NCAA Basketball: Alabama at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when Auburn was bad in the early Bruce Pearl years? We made the SEC Tournament Semifinals and that seemed to be just about the only highlight for quite some time.

During the 2015-16 season, however, things were looking up a bit. Auburn started the year with a tense win over UAB, where Horace Spencer (what happened to him?) swatted a last second shot to preserve the victory. Unfortunately, the Tigers didn’t have a ton of success after that until mid-January when they beat Kentucky for the first time in forever.

I was on the Auburn Radio Network broadcast then with Rod Bramblett and Sonny Smith. It was an incredible year despite the play on the floor lacking most of the time (Auburn finished 11-20 that season and the highlights were few and far between). Getting to work directly with my idol and an Auburn sports legend still only really occurs in my mind like a dream, and I often have to wonder if it truly happened.

After the win over Kentucky, things went sideways a bit. Not to blindside you with a personal note, but on the morning following that win, my dad died. I didn’t know that the day we had our biggest basketball win in some time would be the last day that I’d have a dad. It’s obviously been over three years at this point, but that period will always be stamped in my memory for the following days and weeks.

There’s not much to smile about in the aftermath of something like that happening, but let me tell you one thing that will always put a little mirth in your heart —

Beating the hell out of Alabama.

Thank you, Kareem Canty.

I can’t find the highlights from this game, but Canty went off against the Tide at Auburn Arena in what seemed like a really positive upturn for the basketball team at that point. He scored 25 points, went 5-8 from three, and 6-7 from the foul line to put away the Tide 83-77. Together with Cinmeon Bowers (who had 20 points on the night), he put on a show and got the Tigers a tough win over a pesky Alabama team.

Auburn lost the next seven games (all by double digits) and fell completely apart down the stretch, but Canty’s night at Auburn Arena will always hold a special place in my heart. Beating Bama is never a bad thing, and I really needed it at that point. Coming up tomorrow, we go back even further in recent Auburn basketball history!