Tigers win their SEC opener for the first time since 2007!
War Eagle, everybody! The Auburn Tiger men’s basketball team has opened the 2013 SEC season with a 68-62 win over the LSU Tigers in Auburn Arena. It’s the first opening night win in five years, and only the second time in the past ten years Auburn has opened with a win in the SEC! It’s said that you need to win your home games in the SEC, and Auburn started out doing just that.
What is impressive is how Auburn won this game. The orange and blue Tigers were without key players Chris Denson and Jordan Price, who are both out indefinitely with stress fractures. The home standing Tigers suffered a slump before halftime, and trailed 28-27. That deficit increased to 33-27 in the second period, before the good guys started making a 16-2 run. The team forced LSU to work for points, and denied easy transition baskets. On the night, LSU hit only 25 of 67 field goal attempts, for a paltry 37.3 percent.
With a balanced scoring attack featuring Allen Payne, Shaquille Johnson, and Frankie Sullivan, Auburn pulled away in the second period, leading by as much as 14 points. LSU started fouling repeatedly late, and tried to make a comeback. It wasn’t pretty, with Auburn hitting only 12 of 20 free throws on the night, but they hit enough to hang onto the lead.
Last season, LSU finished 18-15 overall, and 7-9 in the SEC. Coming into this game, LSU was 9-2. If Auburn is to move out of the Western Division cellar, they have to win games like this one, and they did. I’d have to say that the past three games this team has played have showed me a tenacity not seen since the days of Chris Porter, Doc Robinson, and the Cliff Dwellers.
The Tigers travel Saturday to Columbia, South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks. Last season, South Carolina finished dead last in the SEC, with an overall record of only 10-21. This season, they’ve already equaled last season’s win total, and stand at 10-4. The Gamecocks lost a tough 56-54 decision to Mississippi State in Starkville last night, to open their SEC season 0-1. They’ll be looking to equal their record against the Tigers at home Saturday. This one’s a noonish tip off, and it will be televised on the SEC Network. Check your local listings.
After a dismal football season, it always seems to help when the Tiger basketball team does well. I remember as a teenager suffering through the end of the Shug era, and the beginning of the Barfield reign. On the field, Auburn only won 11 football games total in 3 years. It was great to have roundballers like Eddie Johnson, Mike Mitchel, and Stan Petkiewicz.
As the football team transitioned from Terry Bowden to the early Tommy Tuberville years, we were treated to an SEC Champion basketball squad under Cliff Ellis, and one of the best squads in team history. I don’t know about you, but I tended to watch a lot more basketball after a disappointing football season. Here’s to Coach Barbee, and the Auburn Tigers! War Eagle, and great effort!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Auburn Lady Tigers. They are off to a hot start this season. Under new coach Terri Williams-Flournoy, the Tigers are 12-3, and won their league opener over 23rd ranked Arkansas. A close loss to new SEC member Missouri this past Sunday evened the league record at 1-1.
This team has really turned up the heat, and plays with intensity. They are led on the court by sophomore guard Hasina Muhammed, an All-SEC Freshman Team selection last season. This year, Muhammed is averaging 16.6 points per game, and 40 steals. Auburn plays at Ole Miss, Saturday night at 6:00 PM.
So far, I really like how 2013 is starting out for the Tigers. Both basketball teams are winning, and there’s a whole new exciting football staff on hand trying to right the ship. Exciting times lie ahead, folks!