Monday Musings: Tough Stretch Ahead
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While last Wednesday’s game… against Texas A&M resulted in a loss for Auburn, it really is impressive just how close the Tigers kept it down the stretch. With leading scorer and SEC Player of the Year candidate Bryce Brown out in the second half due to an injury, Auburn fought back from a 17-point deficit against a team that is, in my opinion, the most talented in the conference.
There’s a decent chance that these two teams will face each other again in the SEC Tournament—with both teams hopefully at full strength on a neutral court.
What is more impressive… is what occurred last Saturday. Auburn went to Athens and spanked the Bulldogs 78–61 without Brown in the lineup. On top of that, Desean Murray was also on the bench in the second half with cramps and did not return.
No problem. Auburn took care of business and stuck a fork in Georgia’s NCAA Tournament hopes this season.
With just six games left, Auburn holds a two-game lead over Tennessee and Alabama. The Tigers can guarantee an SEC regular season title by winning five. Four guarantees a piece of the title.
This week’s game against Kentucky… makes me extremely nervous. This is the worst stretch for Kentucky under Coach John Calipari, and the Wildcats are hungry for a win. That spells trouble for Auburn. It will be important for the Tigers, as always, to shoot very well from beyond the arc early on Wednesday night. On the other end, protect the paint, and force this team to shoot as that has been Kentucky’s biggest struggle in its four recent losses.
It’s tough to imagine Kentucky losing four straight games, but at the same time, it’s important to realize that this is not a typical Calipari Kentucky team. They can’t shoot, the players have no desire to win for their coach and they don’t know how to play as a team. Basically, it’s the opposite of Auburn.
The Tigers must defend the home court while they still can, because those opportunities are running out as we approach postseason play.
Just as I predicted last week… this year’s National Signing Day lost some of the fanfare that we’ve come to see in previous years. This was due to the early signing period. It’s a welcome addition to the recruiting landscape as it’s a win-win for both fans and student-athletes.
Those who have already made up their minds can go ahead and get their decisions out of the way as soon as possible—clearing all distractions that come from the recruiting process. And those that choose to wait and make a spectacle of their college decision will have a reduced audience of fans that have grown tired of the recruiting media coverage over the last few years.