Will Wade not happy with timing of LSU’s schedule this week Saturday Down South
The NCAA inched a step closer to free agency this past week when the ACC joined the Bin Ten Conference is support of allowing athletes to transfer to another school without losing a year of eligibility. Currently, football and basketball players must sit out a year before becoming eligible. The proposed change would do away with that rule.
Of course the NCAA Board of Governors would have to approve the change; something that seems likely since the governing body instituted a change last season allowing football players, who have played in less than four games, to enter a transfer portal. Implementing what two of the Power 5 Conferences are advocating could solidify free agency in college athletics and change college sports forever. Many see that as a good thing. But this writer fails to see its merit.
Head baseball coach Bruce Thompson is looking for some answers today following Auburn being swept by UCF over the weekend. As far as this writer can tell, Auburn has never been swept at home by a non conference opponent. And what makes it so perplexing is the Tigers lost it at the plate and on the mound.
Auburn (5-3) came into the contest having scored the most runs (61) since 1951 through their first five games and Tiger pitchers had struck out the most batters (62) since the 2000 season.
“I just think it was a rhythm and momentum of one single series against one opponent,” said Thompson. “The realization in getting out of this one feeling and getting back to the overall perspective is what I’d like to see our guys get to in the next 24 or 48 hours.” We would too coach, we would too.
Speaking of embarrassing losses, the softball team had a weekend they would like to have back. The Tigers went 1-4 in the Mary Nutter Classic, in Cathedral City, Calif. They lost two close games by 2 runs but were run-ruled twice; losing to No. 1 UCLA 11-1 and being shut out by No. 16 Arizona State. No doubt the competition was tough. But when’s the last time you can remember Auburn softball being run-ruled twice in a tournament? I certainly can’t recollect that happening before.
Auburn coach Mickey Dean said, “You can’t be fair-weather fans with this team, but they are playing hard and they are going to get better.” Maybe the learning experience will help them win the Tiger Invitational which starts Friday at Jane B. Moore Field.
Auburn basketball was sailing along at 21-2 before their best player, Isaac Okoro, suffered an injury against Bama on February 12. Since that game, Auburn has struggled in losses to Mizzou and Georgia. And on Saturday the Tigers found themselves down by 17 points at half time to the Tennessee Volunteers.
Yet they came back to notch their fifth come from behind game of the year. But this time Okoro was not the difference – Bruce Pearl was. Trailing the Vols by 17, Pearl had a “come to Jesus meeting” with his team behind close doors. Players would not divulge what the coach said but acknowledge it lit a fire under them as the Tigers came back for their 23rd victory beating the Vols 73 – 66.
With the basketball season drawing to a close, the No. 15 Tigers are tied for second place and are playing to get a double bye in the up coming SEC Tournament. Ole Miss comes to town Tuesday before Auburn has a tough game at Kentucky Saturday. If (and that’s a big “if”) the Tigers win those two, they will be just one game way from first place.
Although I’m looking forward to March Madness, it won’t be long before football returns to the Plains. Auburn A-Day is just 47 days away. It would be nice if the newly commissioned statues of Cliff Hare, Shug Jordan, and Pat Dye could be ready by then but I know that’s an impossibility. However, just thinking about being back in Jordan-Hare is enough to get this football fan dreaming about what a new season can bring.
Until next time …
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Extra Innings: 10 takeaways from the first full week of SEC baseball Saturday Down South
After a great start to the season, Auburn’s bats went cold in a bad way. Auburn started off a 3 game series against UCF on friday and the Knights brought it all weekend. Auburn lost all 3 games and they weren’t even close. This is the first non-conference series sweep under Butch Thompson. Check out the recaps below:
— Auburn Baseball (@AuburnBaseball) February 22, 2020
— Auburn Baseball (@AuburnBaseball) February 23, 2020
Auburn looks to rebound with a midweek miniseries against Alabama A&M Tuesday and Wednesday. The Tigers are 5-3 on the season.
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(AP photo Julie Bennett.)
War Eagle, everybody! What a strange week in Auburn basketball. A week ago, we were reeling in the headache from a trip to the snow in Missouri, and a double digit loss. Then Auburn really stunk up the joint in Athens, Georgia at midweek. I did not have a whole lot of hope with Tennessee coming to town yesterday. Instead, Auburn erased a 17 point second half deficit with an 18-0 run, and flushed Tennessee down the stretch for a big 73-66 win over the visiting Volunteers.
Auburn has built their 22-4 record mainly on defense, forcing turnovers, limiting the other team’s best player, and not allowing easy shots. This Tiger team will not finish with a reputation for shooting. Cold streaks where the team can’t hit layups, much less anything outside the paint are the norm, unfortunately.
A lot depends upon the free throw line for Auburn, offensively. The Tigers drive the lane, and it is really just a gamble on how the referees call the game. Sometimes Auburn gets refs that won’t call anything unless it is a football-style tackle. And then we get a game where any stray hand in the lane sends Auburn to the line. I’m reminded of the Kentucky game Auburn won at the free throw line, a few weeks ago. Then we have a game like the game at Missouri a week ago, where the refs were maddeningly inconsistent. At least they were, till Devan Cambridge was called for deliberately stepping on a Mizzou player’s leg. After that, any judgement call went against Auburn, and heavily contributed to the loss.
The most disturbing facet of this Auburn team the past few weeks is allowing way too many easy shots for the opponent. When the Tigers can’t shoot straight, and are allowing dunks and layups, and easy 3s in the half court offense, hopes for victory are dim. I have to give head coach Bruce Pearl credit, yesterday. He emptied the bench, and let the young guys loose. Freshmen Allen Flannigan, Devan Cambridge and Jaylin Williams contributed great defense, and timely shooting. Williams probably had the play of the game, when he drove down the lane, tossed the ball to the backboard, then rebound-slammed the ball home for a thunderous dunk. Williams also contributed 3 steals in limited minutes.
Forcing turnovers won the game against Tennessee. Tennessee had 24 turnovers, and 18 of those were steals by numerous different Auburn players. That, and actually making free throws down the stretch. For better or worse, Auburn’s offensive plan this season is to pass the ball around the perimeter till the shot clock gets to 10 seconds, then somebody drives the lane, hoping for either a close-range shot or a called foul. When Auburn gets the foul call, then misses at the line, the other team pulls ahead.
While I’m bagging on referees today, I’ll touch on something that has been a big gripe all season. Auburn likes to throw the ball into the paint to Austin Wiley. When that happens, Wiley is immediately double-teamed by most teams Auburn plays. Wiley then gets mugged. He will then fumble the ball or put it on the floor and it gets raked out. And who can blame him, while he is getting held and near-tackled by two big men? We need more foul calls, here. I’d also like Wiley to get better at the turn and shoot. That might be the only weakness in his game. Otherwise, Wiley is a terror inside, scooping up rebounds like crazy and altering shots.
For all the woe and hand-wringing over Auburn basketball this season, this team sits at 22-4, and will almost certainly get a March Madness bid. When Isaac Okoro returns, this will be one of the top teams in the SEC, and we could see another run like last year. In any event, 20-win teams have been really rare in my years of following Auburn basketball, and I salute these players and coaches regardless of what happens going forward this year.
The post A Wild Week in Auburn Basketball! appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.
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With two weeks left in the regular season, it seems like a good time to check in on the SEC standings and where everyone is stacking up with the SEC Tournament around the corner and Selection Sunday right after that.
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Auburn was in action Wednesday night against Oakland. Coming off a 4-0 series sweep of UIC over the weekend, the bats started hot and continued into last night. Auburn tallied 7 runs in the second and followed up with 1 run in the 6th, 3 runs in the 7th, and 6 runs in the 8th. The Tigers soared to a 17-1 win. Highlights below:
The Tigers are next in action tonight against UCF on SECN+ at 3:00 Auburn time.
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