basketball

Monday Musings from The Plains

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It’s a great time to be watching Auburn basketball.

Auburn fans had to wonder how Auburn basketball would respond after a disappointing road loss in Tuscaloosa. But it appears it was just a speed bump on the way toward what looks like a probable berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers rebounded in a big way dominating their oldest rival, the Georgia Bulldogs 79–65 Saturday night.

After falling behind by 14 at the half Auburn came storming back, going on a 31–4 run led by Bryce Brown. Scoring 25 of his 28 points in the second half, he’s been the catalyst to Auburn’s making four double-digit comebacks in SEC play this season. Bruce Pearl gave the junior high praise after the game. “Bryce Brown has gone from one of the best defensive guards in the league to being one of the best guards in the league.”

Even with Brown leading the way, it was a team effort as the Tigers forced 19 turnovers that led to 27 points. The Tigers now lead the league in steals at 14 per game. And once again, Auburn was hot at the foul line, hitting 21 of 23 free throws.

It was another fun game to witness. UGA coach Mark Fox said the crowd was a big factor in disrupting the Dogs’ play as the Auburn Arena was absolutely rocking. If you haven’t been to a basketball game this year, you owe it to yourself to attend.

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New Auburn Athletic Director

It’s a new day for Auburn athletics as Auburn welcomed Allen Greene, Jay Jacobs’ replacement, in a press conference Friday. The 40-year-old former Notre Dame baseball star and University of Buffalo AD was full of hope and enthusiasm as he addressed a room full of supporters. “Our quest for championships will be unwavering, and we will be incredibly committed to making sure we bring home some hardware,” said Greene. “Our mission is to provide you as student-athletes and our coaches every opportunity to win conference and SEC championships.”

One of the first things on his plate will be assessing whether the school needs to build a new standalone football facility to keep from falling behind in the arms race.

By all accounts he won the press conference, now we get to see if he can keep Auburn on an upward path in the arms race and in winning championships. It’s a bigger stage than he’s ever been on before but those who know him well, say he’s up to the challenge.

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I’ve always been a fan of

Auburn analyst and former offensive coordinator Al Borges. His impact on the 2004 undefeated team is unquestioned. That team’s entire backfield was first-round draft picks. It was good to see him be named the offensive coordinator at UTSA. 

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Recruiting

With less than two weeks to National Signing Day, Auburn’s 2018 class is ranked at No. 3 in the SEC and No. 10 nationally. Thus far the Tigers have 15 signees and seven verbal commitments. However, there are a couple of spots that need shoring up, most notably the secondary and the offensive line.

With the graduation of four seniors and only two offensive line signees so far in this class, Auburn needs to sign at least a couple more linemen. A good prospect could be OT Dylan Wonnum, from Tucker, GA. And on the defensive side of the ball, Auburn has interest in four star cornerback Taiyon Palmer from Lawrenceville, GA. We’ll try to keep you posted here at Track ‘Em Tigers on developments on these and other prospects in the final days leading up to National Signing Day.

As usual Atl_AU_Fan will have an open thread up on that morning. So be sure to check in with us and join the discussion as the National Letters of Intent coming faxing in to the athletic office. Until next time …

War Eagle!

The post Monday Musings from The Plains appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Highlights of Auburn’s 79-65 Win Over Georgia

Stop me if you’ve heard this multiple times over the last two weeks: Auburn couldn’t buy a bucket in the first half. It caused much discontent in Auburn Arena. It caused Auburn to trail by 14 points at halftime. But then Georgia didn’t make a field goal until 6 minutes left in the game, Auburn started hitting nearly everything, Mustapha Heron killed a man, and Auburn won by 14.

Alabama Ends Auburn’s Winning Streak

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It was a clunker of a game by the Auburn Tigers, no doubt about it. 

Auburn traveled to Tuscaloosa to take on an Alabama team that has largely underachieved this year under Avery Johnson but was still viewed by most basketball aficionados as a bubble team for the NCAA tournament. On the other hand, the Tigers were regarded as one of the hottest teams in the nation,

With the nation’s longest winning streak and sitting atop the SEC, Auburn was in a position it hasn’t known maybe ever. If this were a blue-blood team, fans wouldn’t have been very worried about Auburn laying an egg against its rival. Winning streaks, sitting atop the standings, and avoiding letdown games against lesser opponents on the road isn’t what those teams do. 

But Auburn hadn’t been there before, and youth and inexperience finally caught up to Bruce Pearl’s squad with the Tigers dropping a 76–71 game.

It just had to be against Alabama, didn’t it?

Auburn basketball fans could feel it coming, but as the two teams tipped off, the SEC Network broke news that Colin Sexton, Alabama’s best player and the SEC’s top scorer, wouldn’t be playing. For a moment, it seemed as if a loss was inevitable, it wouldn’t be in Coleman Coliseum. Even as the two teams traded turnovers in the first few minutes of the game, one thing was becoming abundantly clear: with Sexton out, Auburn hadn’t game planned for John Petty. 

Who? Exactly. 

Petty dropped 27 points on the Tigers, including 8 of 13 from down town. It wasn’t just the volume of threes that Petty hit, but how and when. Case in point was an off-balance NBA-range three that Petty threw up. The only way it could have been any more comical was if it had been with a blindfold and a hand tied behind his back. But like almost every shot he took, it still found the bottom of the basket. Though Auburn had a slim three-point lead on a buzzer beater in the first half, the Tigers fought from eight points behind virtually the entire half. Every time Auburn cut the lead, typically to six points, Petty would drop another one and push the lead right back to eight, which seemed to be the Tides’s magic number. 

Auburn never went on the game-defining run that ate up opponent’s leads or pushed the margin of victory to the 14-point average victory margin the Tigers have enjoyed. 

Still, Auburn had chances in the waning moments of an ugly outing to win the game, and they weren’t with the long ball or turnovers. It was at the charity stripe where Auburn has been so good this year. Jared Harper, Chuma Okeke, and Mustapha Heron all took turns in the double bonus but were unable to convert. Harper, an 80-plus percent shooter from the line, missed both of his shots in what was basically a back-breaker moment. 

Though the 63-percent free-throw number isn’t typical for Auburn, it also wasn’t the reason Auburn lost. Auburn never looked right from the beginning and didn’t get better as the game went on. Big men Anfernee McLemore and Horace Spencer have had some tough games the last few weeks, and while Spencer turned his game back up last night, McLemore looked more than a little off. The typically high-energy man was anything but as he scored just six points, pulled down two rebounds and couldn’t add a single block—his mainstay. Spencer did what he could, also kicking in six points and adding a pair of blocks. 

The biggest head-scratcher was the play of Mustapha Heron. After scoring early on a pair of alley oops, Heron completely disappeared for the entire first half and most of the second. He resurfaced late in the game as he tried to take over the game. The problem was, it looked more like selfishness as he cut off passes meant for his point guard, Jared Harper, and drove the lane just to turn the ball over. Heron led all Tigers with four turnovers while scoring just five points, an abysmal game for him. Bryce Brown led the Tigers with 12 points and was invisible in the second half as Alabama did a fine job pushing him to the perimeter and forcing him to take really tough shots. Although he did hit 4–8, he took far too few shots in the second half. 

In the end, it was a forgettable game that went back to the previous years under Pearl and even into the late Barbee era. There was no excuse for the Tigers to drop this game against Alabama, especially with Sexton out.  

With Florida earning a win and Auburn dropping this game, the Tigers enjoyed a short week atop the SEC as they lost their first conference game and fell to second place behind the Gators. They get their second biggest rival, UGA, at home this Saturday at 5:00 PM on the SEC Network. 

The post Alabama Ends Auburn’s Winning Streak appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Auburn Hires New AD

Auburn Hires New Athletics Director

There is soon to be a new Athletic Director at Auburn.

Jay Jacobs, who announced in November 2017 that he was “stepping down,” will be replaced by newly-hired Allen Greene.

Allen Greene has been the AD at Buffalo for the past two years and, pending approval of Auburn’s Board of Trustees, will take over duties in the near future. Greene was the deputy athletic director and a senior associate athletic director at Buffalo. While there he worked with Danny White, now the AD at UCF.

It seems that Greene has some fund-raising abilities as well which, I’m sure, didn’t hurt him in Auburn’s search for a new AD. Greene raised funds for an $18 million indoor practice facility that has yet to be built, negotiated with Nike to land an apparel deal, and led the project for a facilities master plan.

Greene also was the assistant athletic director for development at Ole Miss from 2009–12. While there he was part of a $150 million capital campaign. He also worked in the athletic and compliance offices at Notre Dame, his alma mater, from 2003–09. 

UPDATE: Auburn’s Board of Trustees made the hire official the new AD will start in February. There is a press conference being held at 10:00 AM CT Friday.

Let’s welcome Auburn’s newest Athletic Director, Allen Greene.

War Eagle!

The post Auburn Hires New AD appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

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