One and Done
Is the hard-luck basketball team done for the season?
(Wade Payne, AP Photo)
An up-and-down basketball season likely ended for the Auburn Tigers Wednesday night in the SEC basketball tournament. In typical Tiger fashion lately, Auburn blew a 10-point lead with less than 4 minutes left.
The question now is whether Auburn will seek a spot in the CBI tournament. On one hand, any additional practice is a good thing. However, this is a young team that finished losing 6 of its last 8. Does anyone really want to see an additional loss by this team, likely to a nonpower-5 foe?
I watched the last 5 minutes of regulation on my DVR, and it was frustrating. Auburn defended poorly all season but makes up for it with speed and the occasional steal or block from an athletic young roster.
The bottom line is that we would not be talking about a loss in this game if Auburn had just hit most of its free throws at the end. Missouri was not some juggernaut that could score at will. What they did, was foul, and Auburn would miss at the other end.
Still, after Missouri cut the Auburn lead to 3 points with just 16 seconds left, all Auburn had to do was dribble or pass to open court and let the clock run out. With Auburn’s speed, that should not have been a problem. Instead, incredibly, an offensive foul was called, giving the ball back to Mizzou. Then, Auburn wandered around on defense, mostly packed in the paint. Why, I have no idea. A two-pointer does not save the game. Instead, Auburn allowed an open three, and the game went into overtime …
Both teams looked gassed in the extra period. Auburn missed a free throw that would have given the Tigers a 4-point lead. At the end of it, Missouri got a wide open look at a three and likely finished Auburn’s season. Auburn was done with the SEC tournament in just a day, losing to the last-place regular season finisher.
I think it’s time to pack it in and start getting ready for next season. The Tigers need to get bigger and stronger, for sure. A core of really good players remains, and they won’t be mostly freshmen next season.
Returning are guys like Austin Wiley, Danjel Purifoy, Horace Spencer, Mustapha Heron, Bryce Brown, Jared Harper and Anfernee McLemore. And, there is supposedly a really good recruiting class lined up as well. The chance to shine this season is done. It’s time to work towards the future.