Here’s a quick reminder that Auburn plays cross-state rival Alabama tonight at Coleman Coliseum. Can you feel the anticipation? I bet you had a hard time sleeping last night because of the excitement.
Such is life for Auburn basketball these days. In a season where the school opened up its new $92 million arena, few Tiger fans have given more than a glance at Tony Barbee’s bunch.
Despite announced sellouts at Auburn Arena, most nights the place looks half empty. Auburn finds itself in the same situation as most other struggling SEC programs. Unlike football, you better win or tumbleweed will roam freely across your arena.
Barbee had to see it coming. The process of turning around this program is a multi-year deal. He’s not only fighting the recruiting battle, he’s also battling history. With the exception of a run back in the late 1990′s and another one in 2003, Auburn basketball has seen little glory since the days of Sonny Smith.
Auburn enters tonight in last place in the SEC West with a record of 9-17 overall and 2-10 in conference play. In their first meeting in late January, Alabama outlasted Auburn 68-58.
Things will be even tougher tonight. Alabama has won eight of its last nine and have already clinched a share of the SEC West Title. They enter the contest 18-8 overall and 10-2 in the SEC.
Despite Auburn’s struggles in recent years, the series with Alabama is one Auburn has dominated recently. The Tigers have won six of the past nine meetings, including sweeps in 2007 and 2009.
In order to have a chance in Tuscaloosa, Auburn must get its offense going against one of the top defenses in the country. Auburn ranks 11th in scoring in the SEC, averaging 63 points a game. They sit dead last in shooting. Meanwhile, Alabama gives up only 58 points a game, which ranks fifth nationally.
Barbee says success starts with the offense.
“The offense has really hurt us in terms of being able to stay in the game,” Barbee said. “But that is to be expected against high-level teams that you face every night in this league.”
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CT from Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa. The game can be watched on the internet at ESPN 3.com.
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