I know basketball will never come close to reaching the level of excitement that Auburn football generates in a good year, but don’t you feel like you’re missing out on something?
With Auburn and school officials choosing to sit out another season of competitive SEC play, all fans had to look forward to this weekend were the NFL Combine and Auburn baseball taking on the likes of Middle Tennessee State and the College of Charleston.
Hell, I’d rather sit through an entire night at the Oscars than be subjected to those two events. No offense to John Pawlowski and company. I love you, but wake me up when the real season starts.
If Ole Miss can build a basketball program, why can’t Auburn? With the Tigers on the way to perhaps its worst season in a generation, athletic director Jay Jacobs continues to voice support for embattled coach Tony Barbee.
“We have to be patient,” wrote Jacobs last week to Tiger Unlimited members.
“Coach Barbee recently said we have to change the culture to elevate our program to a new level. History says he is right.”
Jacobs even compared the current plight to that of Sonny Smith who came more than 25 years earlier. “Our history says we can be successful in basketball, but it also says we have to be patient.”
I would also add that comparing Auburn basketball today with that of a former coach who walked the courts during the Reagan administration is moronic at best.
Despite proclaiming before the season that this year’s team was his best, Barbee has now lost 11 of its last 12 games. They’ve lost four of their last five home games and have been beaten by 30 or more points in two of its last three games.
Anybody that reads my weekly columns know I’m no fan of Jacobs. I just don’t get it. Since taking over nearly 10 years ago, Auburn has seen drastic declines in all four its major sports. Football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball are all in significantly worse shape than when he inherited it.
Take the 2010 football season out of the equation and you realize this has been one of the darkest periods in Auburn history. Yet Jacobs continues to thrive. It’s one of the damndest things I’ve witnessed in my lifetime.
I’m still amazed that those who give the most to the athletic department hardly complain (at least publicly) about coughing up $7 million to let Gene Chizik sit home and watch Ellen every day at 3 o’clock.
If my hard earned money was going toward covering Jacobs’ mistakes, I believe I’d demand a change. I was only on the hook for three sets of season tickets this past season, and I still feel violated.
The good news is the basketball season is nearly complete and some will begin buying into Barbee’s promises for 2014. He’ll undoubtedly sign several blue chippers in the off-season who’ll not qualify academically and Jacobs will swear the culture is changing.
Meanwhile, both he and Barbee will pocket another couple of million dollars and the beat will go on.
Chris Denson will lead the Tigers against TAM tonight at 7 pm in the Arena
The Auburn Basketball Team was 14-2 at Auburn Arena last season. This year the Tigers are 7-7 and just 3-9 in the SEC. It’s been a puzzling happen stance. The home court advantage is suppose to yield better results than that.
No one seems to have the answers including Head Coach Tony Barbee who said, “It’s maddening that our seniors and our juniors are so inconsistent.” Barbee added, that the Tigers have got to, “get back to playing with a better sense of purpose.”
After a shaky season start, the Tigers seem to have found their way in a three game stretch that nearly saw Auburn defeat No.12 Illinois on the road, beat South Carolina on the road and open their SEC home season with a win over LSU.
Then came a 88-80 double overtime road loss at Arkansas. The Tigers haven’t been the same since, losing nine out of ten including being blown out by Kentucky and Florida at home.
The most puzzling of it all is the home court record. The Tigers are only averaging fifty percent in the Arena. However, it’s not for a lack of fan support. The fans have been showing up and doing their part to provide that home court advantage.
In fact, junior forward Allen Payne said he is amassed at the level of support, “For them to still come out and support us even though we’re not putting our best effort forth, I think that just shows the character of the Auburn Family and how much they care about us.”
If the Tigers are going to have any chance at regaining that confidence it has to start tonight against Texas A&M (15-10, 5-7 SEC). It’s a winnable game if Auburn can play up to its potential. It won’t be easy, it never is.
I can’t ever remember a time in the last 10 years when an Auburn Basketball team has struggled this much at home. One things for certain though – the Tigers can’t change the past but they can do something about the future. They can beat the Aggies.
UPDATE: After jumping out to a 12-0 lead, Auburn loses 10th game of their last 11; fall to Texas A&M 65-56.
Listening to Tony Barbee following Auburn’s 31-point blowout to Florida Saturday, he sounded eerily familiar to another embattled Auburn coach.
“It is what it is. We’ve got to do our job of continuing to build, continuing to grow. I think we’ve got some really talented yet inexperienced guys in this program that we’ve got to get better. I’m really excited about the group we’ve got coming.
“So I think the future’s bright. You see us, where we’re starting and where the top of this league is, there’s a big gap, and we’re trying to close that gap.”
If you close your eyes you would swear the guy talking was wearing a white Under Armour pullover. The only question left for this Auburn basketball team is whether Barbee will follow Chizik out the door in March.
Watching the carnage left on the floor of Auburn Arena Saturday afternoon, it’s hard to believe that little more than a decade ago, Auburn competed and won SEC Championships.
Now, after losing nine of its last 10 games, Barbee is looking for excuses.
“It’s not like we’ve been blown out of those nine games,” Barbee said. “Obviously, it’s not horseshoes and hand grenades. We’re not here to get close. We’re here to win.
“But we’ve had our opportunities. Today we just ran into a buzzsaw.”
Since Cliff Ellis was run out of town in 2004, Auburn has consistently been among the worse in the SEC. For a school famous for its impatience with football coaches, the athletic department uncharacteristically looks the other way when it comes to men’s basketball.
For now, Auburn students still show up and more fans come to Auburn Arena than should considering the quality on the court. Under fire already for his handling of the football program, athletic director Jay Jacobs can ill afford fans defecting from Auburn Arena after the $92 million investment.
It’s hard to imagine Barbee getting a fourth season; then again Jacobs remaining on the job is even more unfathomable, and yet here he sits.
Barbee faces a must win situation on Wednesday, when Texas A&M comes to town. For Auburn, this is a winnable game. The Aggies are coming off a 63-56 loss to Vanderbilt and sit 5-7 in conference play.
With six games remaining, time is running out. When asked about his future on Saturday, Barbee refused to bite.
In her final regular season game against Alabama, Blanche Alverson became the 24th all-time career scorer in Auburn history with 1,109 points.
Alverson led the Tigers to a 70 – 53 victory over Bama Sunday afternoon. She had 22 points, 11 rebounds and six assists against the Tide.
The victory ended an eight-game losing streak and improved the Tigers record to 14-11 (3-9 SEC), while Alabama fell to 12-13 (2-10 SEC).
It was Alverson’s second double-double this season and the third of her career. She was one of three Tigers in double figures, as Hasina Muhammad added 15 points and Tyrese Tanner tossed in 14.
“Coach Flo had told us that we needed to step up, especially with (Najat Ouardad) being out,” said Alverson. “This could be the last time I play Alabama so it definitely meant a lot more. I definitely wanted to put the team on my shoulders and get out to a good start.”
And she did just that, her 11 rebounds and six assists led the team for the day.
Blanche has been a leader and an important part of the Tigers her entire career and it is particularly fitting that she was able to shine in her last regular season game against Auburn’s arch rival.
On January 16, 2013 18,000 plus Razorback fans were rocking Bud Walton Arena as the Hogs were locked in a tight game with the Auburn Tigers. Auburn was trying to reach their first 3 game SEC win streak in three years.
With five seconds on the clock and trailing 67-64, Auburn forward Allen Payne drained a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime. The Tigers then battled Arkansas into a second OT before giving up a disappointing loss.
Tonight at 8 pm CT the Tigers have a chance for a redo when the Razorbacks visit the Auburn Arena.
In their first meeting, Auburn out rebounded the Hogs and shot 50 percent from the floor, including 44 percent from 3-point range. They went 8-of-12 behind the arc in the second period alone. But the Tigers were only 7 of 17 from the foul line.
They can’t afford to leave those potential game-winning points at the stripe tonight. And more importantly, they can’t afford to lose the turnover ratio. Auburn committed 18 turnovers to Arkansas’ eight the first go round. It will be a tough assignment as the Razorbacks will be bringing their relentless full-court press.
However, if Auburn can continue the shooting ability they found in a tough physical loss to Kentucky last weekend, they will have a chance.
Before Saturday the Tigers were averaging just 24.8 percent of their 3-point shots for the past six games.
Against the Wildcats that improved significantly with Noel Johnsonhitting four 3-pointers for 12 points, Chris Denson with 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and Shaq Johnson putting in 10 points.
If the Tiger shooting continues where it left off Saturday, and if they can win the turn over battle, they’ll have a chance to hold serve at home and take an SEC victory from the Hogs.
UPDATE: Tigers led at half 38-35 but not able to close out in 2nd half, lose to Razorbacks 83-75.
For most of this basketball season, Auburn Coach Tony Barbee has been preaching to his team to show some fighting spirit. His Tigers gave the coach what he has been demanding today against Kentucky, the hottest team in the SEC.
Despite playing against the Defending National Champions in famed Rupp Arena, the Tigers fought and scraped all game long. They refused to be intimidated and kept it close till late in the contest when (this writer believes) the Refs effectively took them out of the game.
The Wildcats were frustrated by the aggressive, don’t back down attitude of the Tigers and started trying to play a game of intimidation. When Kentucky’s Archie Goodwin threw a forearm against Auburn’s Jordon Granger, he responded with a punch that got him ejected from the game. And while there’s no excuse for throwing punches, the scuffle showed the Cats, the Tigers were not going to be bullied.
The refs moved quickly to get a physical game under control, mainly by calling 29 fouls on the Tigers. Several players got into foul trouble and both of Auburn’s big men (Chubb and Dixon-Tatum) fouled out. Barbee said after the game he was proud of his team, “They executed the game plan that we put in as coaches to a tee. We had our chances. We missed way too many open shots, way too many shots at the basket, committed way too many silly fouls to put them in the one-and-one situations.”
The two teams were almost identical from the field, Auburn was 22-of-51 (.431) and Kentucky 20-of-46 (.435). The Tigers went 7-of-13 from 3-point range while the Wildcats were 6-of 21 (.286). Kentucky (17-6, 8-2 SEC) had the edge at the foul line 26-of-38 to 11-of-17. The Tigers were out rebounded by Kentucky 35-29.
Barbee’s bunch may have lost the game but the good thing is they may have finally found their mojo. If the Tigers (9-14, 3-7 SEC) can play with the same don’t back down attitude the rest of the way … this season will not be a total failure. It will definitely be something to build on for the future.
I guess the refs had to take control of the situation but calling 60 percent of the 50 fouls on Auburn (and the majority of those in the last 10 minutes) definitely helped the Wildcats pull away.
With the Tigers inside game taken away, Auburn had no chance against Kentucky’s Kyle Wiltjer or big man Willie Cauley-Stein and the Cats won by 10 (72-62). But they knew they had been in a real fight. As Barbee said in his post game remarks, “we weren’t gonna get bullied.”
Auburn returns to the Arena Wednesday to open a three game home stand against Arkansas at 8 pm CST on CSS.
Leading Auburn scorer Frankie Sullivan must have help tonight against the Bulldogs.
“We’re getting a lot of open looks from behind that line, and we’ve got some really good shooters who aren’t making them right now. Our shooters, who (have been) getting a lot of open shots, have to step up and make them,”
That’s the way Auburn Coach Tony Barbee explained what has sent the Tigers into a four game slide after looking so good to begin conference play.
Missed opportunities pretty much explains the SEC record to date (2-4). Even though guard Frankie Sullivan currently ranks third in the SEC in scoring (17ppg.), the team as a whole has not been able to make their open shots.
In SEC losses to Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, Auburn has struggled in the second half, averaging a lowly 34.5% shooting average. And their overall 3-point average for that three game stretch is worse than that (24%). The answer to the Tigers woes is simple: Sullivan has got to have some offensive help from his teammates.
The Tigers will have a chance to turn the team shooting statistic around tonight as they take on the Georgia Buldogs at 7p.m.EST at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens. The good news is that the Dawgs (also 2-4) have the lowest shooting average in the SEC (59%). Fans can catch the game on CSS & ESPN3.
Chris Denson really came through last weekend for the Tigers (after returning from a stress fracture) scoring 18 points in a close 63-61 loss to Ole Miss. If Sullivan can get that kind of help from a couple of his teammates, Auburn may be able to get their season back on the right track. If not … then the Tigers may be in for a very rough time the rest of the way.
Go Tigers, Beat dem Dawgs!
UPDATE: The theme of this article tells the story for another Auburn loss as the Tigers shooting woes continue. Tigers shot no more than 30% and lost 57-49. For a full game wrap up click here.
When Auburn Arena was constructed, school officials wanted to get the students closer to the action and more involved in the games. Mission accomplished. Saturday night’s heart breaking loss to Ole Miss has been overshadowed by what happened immediately following the game away from the court.
After a raucous back-and-fourth contest that had the arena rocking all-night, Ole Miss star Marshall Henderson headed to the student section to rub it in following the Rebel’s 63-61 win over Auburn.
What happened next is still up for debate. Many in attendance swear Henderson flipped off the Auburn students, even provoking one Auburn official to say so over Twitter. Video is inclusive, but there’s no question, Auburn students returned the favor.
Provoking them like he did, it’s a wonder Henderson got out of there with all his body parts. The rage in the eyes of the students is great. What’s even better is watching the older gentleman in the video react. Good stuff.
While it’s certainly not good to condone this behavior, it’s comforting to see Auburn students care so much about basketball.
If Auburn ever becomes consistently competitive, Auburn Arena is going to be one fun place to spend Saturday night…
Is there a bigger turd in all of college football than Nebraska’s Bo Pelini? Known for making a complete ass of himself on the sidelines during games, apparently he carries these traits into everyday life.
When Florida prep wide receiver Dominic Walker phoned Pelini Friday to tell him he was switching his commitment to Auburn, the Nebraska coach reacted like a 14 year-old child.
“They were [mad],” Walker told the Orlando Sentinel. “They were very mad. But I thought I had to call them like a real man should,” Walker said. “But yeah, they were mad. Coach Pelini said, ‘Best of luck, you’re going to need it.’”
A class act.
The Nebraska staff is no better. When Walker reached out to Cornhusker wide receivers coach Rich Fisher, the reaction was just as juvenile.
I wonder what Pelini’s reaction was back in December, when he got Walker to flip from Vanderbilt to Nebraska? Remember when that program used to be the gold standard in college football? Not anymore…
If you are still trying to decide who to pull for in Sunday’s Super Bowl, then may I suggest to you the San Francisco 49’ers. They have the only Auburn starter in the game with Carlos Rogers starting at cornerback.
Baltimore on the other hand, has two Alabama starters in the lineup with Terence Cody and Courtney Upshaw. They also have former Auburn player Josh Bynes as a reserve. Overall, the Ravens have 10 SEC players on its roster and the 49’ers have nine.