Auburn males’s basketball has the odds-on favourite to go No. 1 total within the NBA Draft on its roster. It has two doable lottery picks in its entrance courtroom. All it needed to do was win a pair video games within the convention match, and its No. 4 AP Ballot rating almost definitely would’ve translated into one of many 4 No. 1 seeds within the NCAA Event.
The Tigers lost to on-the-bubble Texas A&M on Friday of their first recreation of the SEC tourney. In the event you watched it, it featured a basic March Insanity formulation for an upset: Strain the guards into hero ball techniques, and drive the all-world entrance courtroom to suppose hectic, compelled pictures are good pictures as a result of they’ve barely touched the ball all recreation.
That prospect, Jabari Smith, shot 5-16 on the day, scoring 17 factors, and saving his stat line with late 3s after his group fell down by as many as 20 within the second half. Wendell Inexperienced virtually spoiled the Aggies’ upset, hitting a number of deep 3s because the regular-season SEC champion narrowed the lead late however may by no means pull forward.
Walker Kessler, Auburn’s different doable lottery decide, performed with a shoulder sleeve and contributed 16 factors, 9 rebounds, 4 blocks, and three steals. Smith, Inexperienced, and Walker have been the one Tigers in double digits, because the group mixed to go 9-36 from deep and shoot 30 % from the sector total.
Credit score to Buzz Williams for having a recreation plan as properly put collectively as his swimsuit, and guard Quentin Jackson for his turnover-negating chase-down block after what would’ve been a vital giveaway late. The Aggies additionally solely had three gamers in double digits, however they hit free throws to seal it and made half of their 3s.
I do know Bruce Pearl took Auburn to the Last 4 in 2019, however this isn’t that group. That group, led by Chuma Okeke, Bryce Brown, and Jared Harper, shot 30 3s a recreation, fourth in all of school basketball, and hit almost 38 % of them (via Sports-Reference). Had Okeke stayed wholesome, this “Yeah, however…” about Pearl might not be taking place, however it did occur so now that is taking place.
Pearl is an inexpensive John Calipari knockoff, who can get recruits and rack up regular-season wins, however each resort to screaming with out a plan when it’s time to make changes. The distinction is Calipari’s recruits have been capable of overcome unhealthy teaching whereas Pearl remains to be looking for gamers he can’t maintain again.
This Auburn group is extra proficient than the 2019 iteration, however they don’t seem to be as well-suited for guard-oriented anarchy, they usually’ll must execute and never rush like Smith did when he short-armed an open floater throughout their failed comeback.
Additionally, these 36 tried 3s are 11 greater than they shoot on common, and the Tigers are making a meager 32 percent of them on the year. That’s wonderful while you rating virtually 80 factors a recreation, however again and again we’ve seen match video games devolve into capturing contests, and that’s what they must keep away from.
Maybe now that the Tigers will doubtless be a 2 seed, the betting lots who know Smith, perhaps Kessler, and nobody else on this group can be a bit of extra cautious earlier than advancing them into the Elite 8 and past. I feel Smith is a can’t-miss prospect, too, however entrusting my bracket to Pearl is a deadly train, and one which I’ll be shying away from.
Texas A&M has now received six straight, however Joe Linardi had them in his final 4 out on ESPN after the sport. They’re extraordinarily sizzling, they usually’ll have to remain that solution to sneak into the Large Dance. In the event that they play the best way they performed Friday — like bracket busters — they may earn a possibility to indicate that they’re able to upsetting a group on school basketball’s largest stage.