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What Are Auburn’s Chances to Make Back-to-Back NCAA Tournament Appearance?

The Vanderbilt basketball team is winless in SEC play yet Auburn’s 64-53 basketball victory Saturday may have been the most important game of the year for the Tigers. Reeling from an unexpected loss to Ole Miss at home made Auburn’s game in Memorial Gymnasium a must win.

And not because it was a road win or because it was the Tigers first win in Nashville in 20 years. No the reason the game was crucial was because the impact a loss would have been on Auburn’s post season resume. Had the Tigers dropped the contest, it would have seriously hurt their standing with the selection committee for the NCAA Tournament.

Although the victory was sweet it leaves us with some concerns about a recently sluggish offense. The Tigers shot only 34.7 for the game – the second-lowest offensive production of the season. Most see Auburn’s strength as shooting the three-shot. And when the three’s are falling they are a tough team to beat when they are not, they become average. But those 3-point shots don’t open up if they can’t score inside.

So how did they get the win? “We had great effort and energy defensively, and I thought that was a real key for us,” said coach Pearl. “The communication in the huddle was about winning. It was about getting stops. It was about executing. They came here to win, and we made some progress.

It was the Tigers second road win this season improving their record to 18-7 and 6-6 in SEC play and giving them momentum as they head down the final stretch.

It just goes to show what a good coach can do, when one area of a team’s game is off, to make adjustments and get a win. The real strength of Auburn’s basketball team is not the 3-shot, it’s the coach.

Pearl’s taken some heat lately for some of Auburn’s losses but after an up and down season he has this team in a good position to become only the third team in the last three decades to go to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. With six SEC games left in the regular season, my money is on Bruce Pearl.

The post What Are Auburn’s Chances to Make Back-to-Back NCAA Tournament Appearance? appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Time For Some Peanuts and Cracker Jacks at Plainsman Park

With chilly mornings and frost still on the ground, it’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again. It’s time for the game that has been called, “America’s past time.” Some may want to debate that label today but there’s no denying the sport is the nation’s oldest past time having been played since 1839.

On the college level, baseball usually comes quickly on the heals of football’s National Signing Day. For many Americans, baseball like spring awakens thoughts of new life.

It brings hope and stirs the imagination. After all it is a part of the American fabric. Coming at the start of spring every year it reminds us of new beginnings, new birth, and a chance to start over.

At the end of last season the Auburn Baseball Team was left with the feeling of what might have been. The Tigers came within one run and three outs of Auburn’s first trip to the College World Series in over 20 years. It was Auburn’s first trip to a super regional since 1999 Auburn where the No.9 Tigers forced a decisive game 3 against No. 1 Florida and came within one run and three outs of  making it to the big show.

In the 11th inning freshman outfielder Steven Williams climbed the right field wall to grab a line drive but the ball swerved off his glove and over the wall. Within seconds the entire Auburn team emptied out to surround and console Williams in right field while Florida dogpiled in the infield celebrating a 3-2 win.

Still it was a record setting season finishing at 43-23, winning the Raleigh Regional by outscoring its opponents 40-12 and advancing to the second super regional in program history. Yet it was a disheartening way to end  what had been the best season on the Plains since hosting a 2010 regional.

But Friday will start a new day as the Tigers open with a five day home stand on Hitchcock Field. Fourth year coach Butch Thompson is optimistic despite losing some key payers including first round over-all draft pick Casey Mize.

He will have a different team with18 new players on the roster. We expect juniors From Neurons to Neighborhoods: An Update: Workshop Summary
, Davis Daniel, and the four returning freshmen All-Americans Steven Williams, Working With Immigrant Families: A Practical Guide for Counselors (Family Therapy and Counseling)
Cody Greenhill, and Why Do We Always Come Back to This?
 to lead the way. In addition eight Tigers have been named among theThe Gift Of Tai Chi
by Perfect Game.

So after a long off season, it’s time for some peanuts and cracker jacks. It’s time for  Auburn baseball. Nothing beats sitting in Plainsman Park in the spring with a hotdog and coke watching the Tigers play.

Even thought the Tigers came up short in their quest to make it to Omaha in 2018, this is a new day, a new season. And that’s what baseball does. It reminds us of new beginnings, new birth, and a second chance. I can’t wait …

War Eagle!

The post Time For Some Peanuts and Cracker Jacks at Plainsman Park appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Monday Musings From the Plains

Auburn basketball swept through three SEC opponents at home last week but couldn’t quite push the momentum over to a road win Saturday. Despite a valiant effort the Tigers fell to LSU 83-78.

Out manned in height the Tigers fought hard in a see-saw battle that came down to a one point game. With 20 seconds left Jared Harper and Bryce Brown each a chance to tie the game but both attempts failed.

It was great effort inside Maravich Center where few teams come away with a win.  “I like the way the kids competed,” Bruce Pearl said. “They fought through some adversity, but we did not catch up.”

The Auburn Arena is also a place where visiting team have difficulty securing a win. If the Tigers (16-7, 5-5 SEC) are to make the NCAA Tournament, they will have to win out at home and grab a couple of “W’s” on the road.

Auburn returns to the Arena Wednesday against Ole Miss. The game will be broadcast at 7:30 CT on SEC Network.

***

The women were also locked in a tight SEC road game this weekend pulling out a 75-72 victory over Arkansas Sunday. Auburn tied a program record with their fifth road win of the year. If the Tigers continue playing like that on the road, fans may see both of their basketball teams in the NCAA Tournaments this year.

Auburn (18-6, 6-5 SEC) is on the road again Thursday night when they travel to Knoxville to play Tennessee in a 6 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena.

***
Speaking of competing on the road, the Auburn Gymnastics team had one of the top 10 road scores in program history in Gainesville Friday. Although it was their highest road score this season, the Tigers were edged by the No. 2 Gators 197.850 to 196.700.

And the Tigers gave the great performance in front of a sellout hostile crowd. Head Coach Jeff Graba said, “I feel like what the girls should take away is that they can compete with anybody in the country,”

Auburn will face No. 22 Arkansas this Friday in the Auburn Arena. The meet is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT.

***

The Auburn softball team had a less than auspicious start to their season over the weekend winning two games while losing two to inferior competition. Although the Tigers blasted Tennessee State and Western Kentucky with 19 runs, they couldn’t produce the offense needed in a 4-3 loss to Missouri State and a 2-1 defeat to Louisiana Tech.

It’s a plain and simple fact that Auburn should not lose to those teams and certainly not be taken to 10 innings. If the Tigers can’t get the bats going against non conference pitching, it will be very difficult to win in the SEC.

***
Speaking of bats, Auburn’s baseball returns this Friday. The Tigers are one of eight SEC teams ranked in the top 25. Auburn opens the 2019 season with a three-game series against Georgia Southern. First pitch will be 6 pm CT at Plainsman Park. Until next time …

War Eagle!

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