Friday March 11th, 2022
#8 Texas A&M Aggies vs #1 Auburn Tigers
SEC Tournament Quarterfinals
Amalie Arena - Tampa, Florida
Time: 11:00AM CT
Network: ESPN, Auburn Radio Network
Betting Odds: Auburn -8.5, Over/Under 139.5 via Draft Kings Sportsbook
(Odds/lines subject to change. Visit DraftKings for more information.)
Before we dig into today’s matchup, let’s take a look at the bracket as we enter Quarterfinal Friday in Tampa.
SEC Tournament bracket after day two.— The 14 (@14Southeastern) March 11, 2022
Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt all advance. 4 more on deck for Friday. pic.twitter.com/2LvjQTCSeV
Texas A&M’s win over Florida was the most thrilling game of the day but other games yesterday included LSU taking care of business against Missouri early and the 8-point final margin doesn’t include how the Bayou Bengals controlled that game from the start. They will face Arkansas following Auburn’s game with Texas A&M this afternoon. Arkansas will look to beat LSU for the 3rd time this year.
In the evening session, Tennessee will take on Mississippi State who handled South Carolina 73-51 as the Gamecocks had just 17 2nd half points. Kentucky will face Vanderbilt in the nightcap after the Commodores knocked off Georgia and Alabama the last 2 nights.
Now let’s focus on Auburn-Texas A&M.
If you think a lot of things have happened since the last time Auburn played in a SEC Tournament, well you’re right. Auburn won the 2019 SEC Tournament on their way to the Final Four. In 2020, COVID hit and cancelled the SEC and NCAA Tournaments before Auburn could take the floor. Last year, Auburn sat out due to a self-imposed postseason ban.
Today, for the first time in 1090 days, Auburn returns to the SEC Tournament as they take on Texas A&M, the 8 seed who ended Florida’s NCAA Tournament dreams yesterday with an 83-80 OT win over the Gators after making a 3-pointer in the final second of OT.
HASSAN. DIARRA.@hassan_diarra11 pic.twitter.com/nAIyLCCS3L— Texas A&M Basketball (@aggiembk) March 10, 2022
Texas A&M is playing once again for their NCAA Tournament lives and must win today to have any chance of making the Field of 68 on Sunday. As for Auburn, they’re looking to solidify their resume as the push for a 1 seed in next week’s NCAA Tournament continues. Baylor lost last night to Oklahoma while Kansas defeated West Virginia so there’s opportunity to take advantage of Baylor’s misfortune today.
A lot of things have changed for the Aggies since Auburn defeated them 75-58 back on February 12th. After starting the season 15-2, Auburn handed the Aggies their 8th consecutive loss that day in a game that the Tigers led wire to wire. Since leaving Auburn, the Aggies have won 6 of their last 7 games including 5 in a row. They led by double figures for most of Thursday’s game until a late Florida rally sent the game to overtime.
In that win last month, Allen Flanigan had one of his best games of the season with 16 points. Walker Kessler posted his 2nd triple double of the year with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 12 blocks. Jabari Smith was held in check that day scoring just 9 points but also had 8 rebounds.
Auburn got terrific bench play in that game as Devan Cambridge, Dylan Cardwell and Jaylin Williams combined for 24 points. It was a defensive clinic from Auburn as the Aggies shot 27.1% for the game and had just 18 points at halftime. Auburn didn’t play well on offense and still won the game handily as Auburn was just 3-25 from 3.
For Auburn, this will be their 2nd game at Amalie Arena this season and hopefully for them, they shoot the ball better than they did the first time. Auburn played South Florida in this building for the sole purpose of getting a game in this building for this weekend’s tournament. It was tough to watch as Auburn struggled mightily from the field and had to make a 2nd half comeback to escape with a 58-52 win over the Bulls.
As for Texas A&M, the Tigers will have to maintain Henry Coleman in the paint who had 22 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals in their win yesterday. He is averaging 11 PPG and 6.2 RPG this season.
Guards Quenton Jackson and Tyrece Radford the lead the way in the backcourt for the Aggies and Hassan Diarra more than doubled his average yesterday scoring 14 points including the game winning 3.
The last time Auburn was in this situation where they entered the SEC Tournament as the #1 seed, it didn’t go so well. It was also the last time the SEC Tournament wasn’t in Nashville before this year. Auburn has a lot to play for still and while some have picked them to win this tournament, there are a lot of people predicting this thing to be won by Tennessee or Kentucky.
Auburn will have the “home-crowd” advantage in this one and they’ve had nearly a week to rest up for these next few days. Jabari Smith has turned it up the last 3 weeks and I feel confident that he’ll have more than 9 points today. Wendell Green was also a player who struggled against the Aggies in the regular season matchup so I would expect to see more out of him today.
A&M is desperate to make a last ditch effort at making the NCAA Tournament field and think they’ll hang around more than they did at Auburn Arena but think the Tigers have too much at the end.