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Auburn Picks Up First SEC Win

By on January 11th, 2017 in Basketball 16 Comments »
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USA TODAY Sports

Well, it sure wasn’t pretty, and it certainly didn’t look easy, but Auburn is leaving Missouri with its first SEC win of the year. The loss of Danjel Purifoy, who is out indefinitely with an ankle injury, certainly hurt the Tigers last night, as the overall energy on the court was lacking. 

Picking up the slack, however, was Mustapha Heron. And although Heron is currently playing through a sprained ankle of his own, the freshman guard delivered a strong performance on Tuesday night, scoring 16 points to make up for Purifoy’s absence. Just imagine the possibilities for this team with Purifoy and Heron both healthy and playing to their full potentials. 

I’ve seen some pretty harsh criticism directed toward Bruce Pearl recently on Twitter. It’s important for fans to remember that Auburn is not a traditional basketball school. So what the third-year head coach has already been able to accomplish on the recruiting trail is simply remarkable.

Give this team and Coach Pearl some more time. There are four freshman in the starting lineup, and each is extremely talented. There is no doubt in my mind that if this team is able to stay intact over the course of the next couple seasons, Auburn will receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

This team is on the cusp of greatness, so patience is key.

Last night’s game was a “must-win” in the sense that an 0–4 start to the SEC campaign would make it incredibly difficult to bounce back for such a young team. I’m looking for Auburn to play more physically, shoot more consistently, and attack the glass with more assertiveness and urgency. There’s no reason for this team to allow 25 offensive rebounds in any game, let alone one against a very poor Mizzou squad.

Not to mention, a 54.5 free-throw percentage is inexcusable and will lose Auburn some games down the stretch if this aspect of its game doesn’t improve. Someone has got to work with LaRon Smith on his shooting form, as he shot an abysmal 0-for-6 from the line. 

Looking ahead, Auburn heads to Lexington to take on a Kentucky team that is seeking revenge following Auburn’s upset victory last season on the Plains. It’s unclear whether Purifoy will be healthy enough to play on Saturday, but with or without him, I don’t think the Tigers have a shot.

Either way, it will be a great opportunity for Auburn’s freshmen to get some big game experience on the road.

16 Comments

  1. AUglenn says:

    Glad for the win but this team has to grow up fast, with or without Purifoy.
    Good read Cole

  2. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    ……I’m glad to win. I’m ashamed to admit that I sat down to watch the game, and fell asleep in my chair. I snozzed out with around 10 minutes left in the first half, and when I woke up, it was after 10 PM.

  3. B-REAL says:

    Hardest thing to do in basketball is to get freshman to play team ball on both ends.Some will eventually get it but some never will.Some never get it but still make it to the NBA because they have scoring talent an can run the floor but that's a small part of winning games.

    Michal Jordan wasn't considered the greatest college basketball player,and was mainly a scorer the first part of his NBA career,but he finally got a coach who helped him understand team ball.

    Then there are guys like Magic who was born to play team ball and played for championships his whole life.Talent doesn't always mean your gonna win,but playing together on O and D will.

  4. audude audude says:

    Great read Cole, thanks. It’s about time to read some good news. I agree with the comments above. They need to grow, continue to improve and develop team chemistry fast. This conference doesn’t wait….

    WDE

  5. WarEagleinKC says:

    I have been very critical of Pearl. He got a pass in year 1 (even tho that roster was NOT terrible with KT, Mason, Ross-Miller, Reed). Last year I gave him a pass. When we lost Canty, and Purifoy wasn't eligible, along with Dunans out, there was nothing we could really do. And now this season we have a legit roster. Now youth is being used as an excuse, but it's not like we are losing to UK, KU, UCLA etc.

    Pearl is now 10-30 in conf play, and I don't see us finishing in the middle of a weak conf. Hopefully, we don't finish 2nd to last again. What exactly are we paying him for? For a year 4 NIT birth? Ugh, I really hope not. All I wanted this season was a winning record, then when I saw the loaded roster I thought an NIT birth should be possible.

    I do believe, eventually we will start having more success. As of right now tho, Pearl has been a failure, and hasn't given us any proof that he can actually coach. Where is our half court set offense? Why doesn't Purifoy get the ball at end of games when the foul fest begins (hes an 88% ft shooter)? Why does Waddell ever enter the game? I have legit concerns.

  6. audad says:

    Good article Cole. I’m assuming you were probably at the game. I live in the St. Louis area, as does my son, who is the AU grad in the family, We thought about coming to the game, but had other things come up. From the looks of it on TV, it appeared as though there were maybe two to three thousand people in the stands. Possibly the lowest attended SEC conf game ever. Very sad for Mizzou to draw that poorly at home. I know they are not good, but that’s just downright pitiful.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..That is sad. A few years ago, they had Mike Anderson, and they were tearing up the Big-12.

    • Cole Locascio Cole Locascio says:

      Unfortunately, I was not at the game. I’m still at home for Christmas break. I try my best to attend every Mizzou home game, but that team sure does make it tough to get myself down to the arena. So I don’t blame people for not filling those seats as the product on the court certainly does not deserve to have seats filled. Sad situation. Thanks for reading!

      • WarEagleinKC says:

        Who do you pull for in this game? AU or mu?

        • Cole Locascio Cole Locascio says:

          I told myself that I would be indifferent while watching the game, but I found myself leaning more towards AU.

          • zotus zotus says:

            I’ve always heard that, “Blood is thicker than mid-west snow.” 🙂

          • WarEagleinKC says:

            Just wondering. I actually went to KU, and people always ask me if they ever play (haven’t played in football since 89 and bball since around 86 I think) who would I root for. No question, no doubt, always Auburn.

            Besides beating uat, watching us beat mIZZOU is my favorite! Cant believe how pathetic the crowds have been the last three years that I’ve been there. I honestly cant think of a worse fan base than mizzou.

          • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

            …..I think Auburn plays football at Missouri, next fall. On Sept 23rd.