Against Mississippi State, Blanche Alverson became only the second Auburn women’s basketball player to amass 200 career three-pointers.
February 17, 2013, that’s when Auburn women’s basketball put the brakes on a losing streak by throttling arch rival Alabama 70-53. It was the game that effectively turned the Tigers season around.
The Tigers completed their best regular season record in four years after defeating Mississippi Sate in the season final on Sunday 74-65; earning a second round berth in the SEC Tournament.
Tonight Auburn (16-13) will face off against LSU (19-10) at 7:30 p.m. at the Gwinnett Center Arena in Duluth, Ga.
This will be the sixth meeting all-time between Auburn and LSU in the SEC Tournament with Auburn winning all five previous meetings. The two teams met once this season, with LSU getting the win 59-55.
The Tigers are glad to have another chance at the Bayou Bengals. Senior forward, Blanche Alverson said,” We think (the LSU game) was a game we let slip away from us. So we have some confidence going into the second round.”
After winning three of the team’s last five games of the season, Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy likes the confidence her team has entering postseason play. Hopefully Auburn can ride the new found momentum to the tournament finals.
It won’t come easy as the Purple Tigers come into the game riding a six game winning streak of their own.
Auburn has found their late season success by playing a new style based on high pressure and a fast break offense. The Tigers will be led by Alverson and All-SEC Team member Hasina Muhammad. Hasina has been averaging nearly 15 points per game and has had seven 20-point games.
For her part Alverson has been on a tear lately. She scored 22 against Vanderbilt and had a career high 32 against Mississippi State.
The Tigers are playing their best basketball of the year right now; if they get by LSU tonight, they may be poised to make a run in the tournament. The game will be televised by Sports South and on ESPN3. Tip off will be at 7:30 CST.
Go Tigers! Beat LSU!
UPDATE: Auburn made a mad run in the last five minutes to almost pull it out but a 3 pointer bounces out at the buzzer giving LSU the win 65 -62.
History tells us that despite Alabama’s recent run and Auburn’s woes, neither program is ever too far behind the other. Some may feel that’s being tested now. Nick Saban is the best college coach in the country. He may be the best coach to walk the sidelines in a generation.
As bad as things seem, they are not nearly as woeful as the situation back in the early 1980’s. Alabama was every bit as good as they are now, but Auburn’s situation was much worse.
There were still programs in the SEC who wouldn’t travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium. Tennessee finally came in 1980. It would be nine more years before Alabama was ambushed in Jordan-Hare.
Some Auburn people believed the hurdles were too high to get back to the days of Sullivan and Beasley. Jordan was gone and Barfield never seem to get the backing of all Auburn people.
When favorite son, Vince Dooley backed out at the last minute, things seemed to grow darker.
It all changed in an instant with the support of money heavy alumni including Bobby Lowder and the hiring of Pat Dye. Everything changed when the expectation became more than just competing with Alabama.
Money is not an issue today. Teams beg to get on Auburn’s schedule. They are three seasons removed from a national championship. Coaches have proven they can out-recruit anyone in the country. In some spots, the raw talent has never been better.
Much like 32 years ago, Auburn needs to believe again. It must believe that it can compete not only with Alabama, but everyone else. There’s no question the coaches believe. In my heart, I believe most fans believe.
The work begins shortly on changing the mindset of the players. That’s why even some of the good former coaches had to go. There must be no doubt that Auburn is heading back to the top.
Sure Gus Malzahn is still on his honeymoon. But you have to like the direction he’s taken already. He’s a straight shooter. Things may get worse before they get better. But I feel a lot better than I did at the end of November.
Let’s hope the players do…
Looking for a reason to get out of the house tonight? Auburn Basketball is literally paying (and begging) you to come out and watch the home finale with Tennessee that tips off at 8 p.m. CT. There are numerous promotions going on, including buy one, get one free tickets and all you can eat meal deals. It’s a shame beers aren’t included.
The buy one, get one free deal will run you $15. For $25 you can gorge yourself for 40 minutes while watching really crappy basketball. The ticket price includes all-you-can-eat hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and drinks. It doesn’t get much cheaper than this for SEC basketball. Hold the jokes…
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.
It’s a good gig if you can get it – and keep it.
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.”
That’s not surprising. A recent survey recognized Auburn for having the most loyal fans in the nation. What is surprising is the lack of W’s. The double OT loss in Fayetteville seemed to zap all the confidence out of this group.
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.
“That’s not for me to decide,” he said.
Here we go again.
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.
War Eagle Blanche!
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 Johnson hitting 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.
Asauhn Dixon-Tatum and Josh Wallace fight for the ball in first half action against Kentucky.
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.
Chris Denson led the Tigers in scoring with 15 points, Noel Johnson had 12 on four 3-pointers and Shaq Johnson put up 10 points.
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.