Please, please stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Any of these ones before.
— Last night Auburn lost to Ole Miss by 10 points, a score of 85-75.
— Auburn led by 12 points at halftime, 34-22. In the second half they allowed Ole Miss to shoot better than 65 percent and score 63 points. A “fun” stat from reader John B.: “Before Ole Miss’s final possession tonight, at which point they were up ten with a fifteen-second shot-clock-game-clock differential and Auburn had waived the white flag by not fouling, the Rebels had scored on 23 of 24 possessions. I went through the [expletive deleted] play-by-play on ESPN, which was, if you can believe it, even more painful than watching the last eight minutes of the that game. ”
— Auburn committed 25 fouls for the game and sent the Rebels to the line for 37 free throws.
— Jeff Lebo gave 7 bench players a combined 49 minutes, or, basically, a quarter of all available minutes. Those 7 players combined to go 2-for-14 and score a total of 7 points.
— For the game, Auburn shot 9-for-30 from inside the arc, 32 percent. Ole Miss, however, shot 50 percent as Auburn recorded a total of two blocks.
— Auburn had one player–Tay Waller–shoot 8-of-11 from three and score 29 points on only 12 shots. All other Auburn players combined to shoot 27 percent.
It’s all there, folks. The horrible offensive imbalance, the foul-first-foul-second defensive philosophy, the second-half collapse, the lack of anyone on the bench not named Brendon Knox to help in any noticeable fashion. They skipped the terrible three-point defense and poor foul shooting, but as for the rest of it … I mean, this is Auburn this year. The Georgia and Arkansas wins were nice, the OT losses in Fayetteville and Starkville bad luck. But this is the team. This is the mean to which they regress.
And so unless they somehow become some other team over these next three games, and arrive in Nashville ready to win two more, they won’t even finish with so much as a .500 record. I wouldn’t totally rule out that transformation, since I can’t bring myself to be that defeatist. But the odds are long, long, long.
— Looking at NITology, Auburn’s so far out of the field at this point, it’s possible they’ll have to sweep their remaining three regular season games and then rip off three wins at the SEC tournament. Even a five-game streak and a final record of 18-16 might not be enough when you consider that Alabama looks to be barely in the field themselves, and the Tide have the same SEC record and a much stronger nonconference resume. Maybe it would be. But maybe it wouldn’t. Anything worse than 18-16 won’t make it, that much
I don’t know why I’m even discussing something as unlikely as a five-game winning streak, but there it is. For the record: if the target is a winning season, Auburn’s minimum is 3-0/1-1 or 2-1/3-1, regular season/SEC tourney. (So they’ve got to sweep the regular season, basically. You knew that.) To get to .500, it’s 3-0/0-1, or 2-1/2-1.
— Man, what’s suddenly gotten into Dewayne Reed’s free throw stroke? He went 7-of-7 last night and is now 26-of-27 in his last five games. Better late than never, I suppose.
— 10 of Auburn’s 13 SEC opponents to date have scored 78 or more points. Honestly, how the hell are you supposed to win college basketball games giving up 80 points every time out?
Photo by Van Emst.