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Is it Panic Button Time for Auburn Basketball?

By on February 15th, 2019 in Basketball, News 5 Comments »

Ole Miss forward K.J. Buffen trys to steal the ball from Auburn's Jarred Harper February 13, 2019 (photo: USA TODAY Sports)

It was the year of high expectations. Auburn started out highly ranked, but after out-of-conference play, the Tigers looked less and less like a contender and more like a pretender.

That paragraph could be applied to two different Auburn teams this year. While failing to meet expectations is something very familiar to Auburn football fans, it is a new occurrence to Auburn basketball fans. As many old-school Auburn basketball followers will tell you, simply having expectations for the Tigers is something new, which has softened the blow for the slide back to center for the Auburn basketball fan.

Regardless of the raging commentary between Auburn basketball fans, the fact remains that this team is struggling mightily. Judging these young men is a tough thing to do and should be done with the understanding that they are young men. And while the aim isn’t to be tough on them, some serious introspection is needed.

To avoid a season of regret, Auburn would have to put together great post-season play. A month ago, that was understood. Now, Auburn is in serious contention to not even make the Big Dance and have a shot at redeeming what has, so far, been a disappointing season.

Yes, the Tigers are still firmly in the mix thanks to an SEC conference that is playing really good ball. Yes, losing Wednesday to Ole Miss in and of itself shouldn’t be the sole reason to slap the panic button, even as disgusting as the game was. Fans are quick to look at single games to judge an entire season. Wednesday’s performance was the loss that caused a lot of fans to start questioning the entire the season.

Auburn is winless against currently ranked teams. The Tigers have now lost two games at home, a place they simply do not lose. They are below .500 in conference play with Kentucky and Tennessee looming. And Wednesday night Auburn scored a new low with just 26 firs-half points at home. A very telling, nonstatistical but important aspect of Auburn’s want of success was the lack of support in that game. Fans simply did not show up. Statistically, neither did Auburn’s shooting.

Credit Ole Miss for coming to Auburn Arena and shooting the clutch shots needed to turn the lights out on Auburn. Statistically, the Rebs weren’t great from long range, hitting under 40 percent. It was how they did it. At one point, Ole Miss hit four triples with one second left on the shot clock. A fifth time, it missed the shot, got the rebound and ran the shot clock down before missing another shot and getting yet another rebound, putting Auburn’s squad on defense for over a minute. As talented as Auburn is, as suffocating as it can be in situations, one maddening fact about this squad is the ability to make heroes out of their opponents. It defies statistics. Only Auburn could play flawless defense over and over and still play into its opponents hands.

Regardless of the defense it was shooting and turnovers that buried Auburn. The Tigers hit only 25 percent from beyond the arc with Chuma Okeke hitting more than guards Bryce Brown and Jared Harper, combined. The two guards were 2–20 combining for just 18 points. Okeke did his best to keep Auburn in the game, scoring 23 points, nearly half of Auburn’s paltry 55 points.

Just weeks ago, Auburn’s losses were easy to accept by pointing to aberrations: bad shooting here, poor rebounding there. However, over the last month one thing is painfully obvious: Jared Harper is having his worst year wearing orange and blue. And that isn’t even up for debate. Harper added six turnovers Wednesday night. Three of them were  head scratching, such as a failed alley-oop or dribbling into the lane with three defenders waiting. His turnovers per game have crept up each year from 1.5 to 2.1 to 2.5 this year. While 2.5 doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s been the rate in SEC play that is simply scary. Harper had only three games with four or more turnovers in his first two years. He has six this year with back-to-back games of five and six, respectively.

Auburn’s high hopes for the season were boosted by the return of Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy. Yet neither has been a factor, and it is simply baffling. Auburn was 12–1 to start the season and in those games, Wiley had double-digit points in eight. Since the start of SEC play, Wiley has yet to score double digits.

It doesn’t help that Wiley battled a lower body injury that kept him out of several games. But the truth is he hasn’t played to the level sold to fans as a top draft pick coming out of high school. As of Wednesday night, many fans on social media started using the term “soft” when it came to talking about the big man. His biggest problem, outside of being able to rebound against men the same size or larger, is how he catches the ball on the block but finishes falling away from the basket—something a dominating player would never do.

In addition Danjel Purifoy hasn’t scored more than eight points, and while he is starting to show up, he still hasn’t eclipsed the play fans saw from him as a freshman.

It may not be time to hit the panic button, but Auburn has a long row to hoe to prevent a disappointing season. The Tigers start to work on that redemption Saturday at 11:00 AM against Vandy in Nashville.

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Time For Some Peanuts and Cracker Jacks at Plainsman Park

By on February 14th, 2019 in Baseball, News 5 Comments »
With chilly mornings and frost still on the ground, it’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again. It’s time for the game that has been called “America’s pasttime.” Some might want to debate that label today, but there’s no denying the sport is the nation’s oldest, having been played since 1839.On the college... Read Full Story

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By on February 12th, 2019 in News, Other Sports 1 Comment »
Coach Mickey Dean’s second Auburn squad came out crushing the ball in Gulf Shores on Friday afternoon. Readers may recall from last week’s season look ahead  that situational hitting had to improve if Auburn wanted to succeed this season. Though hitting has declined over the last couple of years, improvements are expected t... Read Full Story

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By on February 11th, 2019 in Baseball, Basketball, Other Sports 2 Comments »
Auburn basketball swept through three SEC opponents at home last week but couldn’t quite push the momentum over to a road win Saturday. Despite a valiant effort the Tigers fell to LSU 83–78. Outmanned in height the Tigers fought hard in a see-saw battle that came down to a one-point game. With 20 seconds left Jared Harper an... Read Full Story

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Auburn NSD 2019 Recap

By on February 6th, 2019 in Football, News 14 Comments »
 NSD  is mostly completed and this is the Auburn Recruiting Class for 2019 based on the information we currently have. There may be updates to this and, if so, we will update it here.Auburn, overall, did okay although there were a couple of misses/flips.Defense:Colby Wooden, 6-4/230, 4-star DE/Buck – Lawrenceville, GAJaylin ... Read Full Story

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By on February 6th, 2019 in Football, News 1 Comment »
Without a doubt, the early signing period has taken some of the excitement away from national signing day. With an expected top-15 recruiting class already, there are still some high profile targets who have yet to announce and sign.Stay with us here for updates, be sure to interact and, by all means, if you hear news before we ... Read Full Story

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By on February 5th, 2019 in News, Other Sports 2 Comments »
Perhaps no Auburn sport has exploded in popularity quite like Auburn softball over the last few years. Last season was a bit of a down year for the Tigers as Coach Mickey Dean's first squad didn't make it out of regional play in Tallahassee. And the disappointment of not hosting a regional for the first time since Auburn's ascen... Read Full Story

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From Auburn players in the Super Bowl to the Auburn Arena being the toughest venue in basketball to the No.17 softball team opening play this week and more in this edition of Monday Musings.

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By on February 1st, 2019 in Basketball 2 Comments »
Bama looks awfully tough inside(Billy Hurst / USA Today Sports)     War Eagle, everybody! This weekend, we have the Iron Bowl of basketball at Auburn Arena as the Alabama Crimson Tide visits. A month ago, I'd have given Alabama little chance in this game, but things change. Despite Auburn's big win over Missouri earlier this... Read Full Story

No Wiley, No Problem in Auburn’s Blowout of Mizzou

By on January 31st, 2019 in Basketball, News 2 Comments »

The win was the fourth game without Wiley and the Tigers didn’t need him to get the job done. But he will be needed when they hit the road again. Hopefully the victory brings back the confidence that Auburn had before Austin went down with the injury.

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By on January 29th, 2019 in Basketball, News 3 Comments »
It's been a rough stretch for Bruce Pearl and the Auburn Tigers. Auburn dropped a 92–84 match to the 22nd ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville, running the losing streak to three and losses in four of the last six games. The Tigers, who shared an SEC regular season title with Tennessee last season, are now 9th in th... Read Full Story

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By on January 25th, 2019 in Football 2 Comments »
A strong group is expected in 2019 (Photo by Acid Reign)     War Eagle, everybody! This week, we'll take a bit of a look at Auburn's special teams prospects for next season. Also, I'll take a very early look at the schedule for next fall.   In 2018, Auburn improved dramatically on special teams, with the exception of being... Read Full Story

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By on January 23rd, 2019 in Football, News 9 Comments »

"Cadillac" Williams to join Auburn as running backs coach.

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By on January 23rd, 2019 in Basketball, News 2 Comments »
Fresh off a heartbreaking last second loss to Kentucky, the Auburn Tigers dropped a second close SEC game Tuesday night. This time it was an 80–77 road loss to South Carolina. It was also the second game without starting center Austin Wiley and the second consecutive game the Tigers' other two big men Anfernee McLemore and H... Read Full Story

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By on January 21st, 2019 in Basketball, News 1 Comment »
The Auburn Arena was rocking Saturday as the Auburn men’s basketball team made an intense push to rally against blue-blood program, Kentucky. Playing without their starting center, Austin Wiley, the defending SEC champs fell just short on a last second shot by Jared Harper that would have given Auburn the win. Still, it was an... Read Full Story

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By on January 18th, 2019 in Football 3 Comments »
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By on January 17th, 2019 in Basketball, News 3 Comments »
Perhaps the only major knock on Bruce Pearl’s Auburn basketball team has been itsr inability to show up on the road. There is no doubting they rank among the sport’s elite, but the one thing that has plagued the Tigers even before this year was poor road play.Typically, fans that haven’t followed the program in depth would... Read Full Story

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By on January 16th, 2019 in Football, News 6 Comments »

Prior to Malik Willis being named No. 2 last year, many expected Joey Gatewood to win that role as he drew comparisons to Cam Newton. That was before the rising sophomore was sideline by injury. However, Nix is ranked as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the nation by 247 Sports, and he is coming in with a lot of confidence.

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By on January 15th, 2019 in Basketball, News 2 Comments »

The SEC is off to a strange start as Ole Miss took down No. 15 Mississippi State, and Bama took down Kentucky. There were upsets throughout the NCAA this weekend, and Auburn's bounce back against UGA likely will help keep the Tigers from dropping too far in the rankings. The Tigers beat down of the dogs was ...

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By on January 14th, 2019 in Basketball, Football, News 5 Comments »
If you’re an Auburn fan few things feel better than a dominating win over your oldest rival. The men’s basketball team did that Saturday in a 93–78 victory over Georgia. It was evident that Bruce Pearl had worked his Tigers on the inside game after Auburn struggled in the paint in a road loss at Ole Miss. And, it resulted ... Read Full Story