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Hoops Report: Whatever

Always out of reach.

Florida 78, Auburn men 70

You may have noticed: I’m the wordy type. It’s not often I read a watch an Auburn sporting event or read a report of the outcome and come up with nothing to say.

But this is one of those times. Coming into the Florida matchup last night, Auburn had to sweep their remaining three home games and steal a W in one, maybe two of their road dates to set up a potential run to the NIT at the league tourney. After the loss in Gainesville, Auburn … has to sweep their remaining three home games and steal a W in one, maybe two of their road dates to set up a potential run to the NIT at the league tourney. Nothing’s changed except the number of opportunities left to claim that road win.

But the remaining opportunities were always going to be better than last night’s. There’s a reason I didn’t bother offering even an abbreviated preview yetserday; given Auburn’s wretched track record against Donovan’s Gators (that’s 11 straight regular season losses) and that they were hella due for an off-game after three solid performances in a row (even if two of those didn’t result in wins), you could see “hang around for a half, give up huge run early in second half, lose by 8” coming a country mile away.

So in the big picture perspective, this game changed nothing. Saturday’s game against Arkansas at the Beav … that’s when we’ll find out if there’s any life left.

Notes from the box score:

— It’s a damn good thing Jeff Lebo doesn’t have any hair to pull out. Because watching Dewayne Reed time his best game in weeks and weeks (22 points on 12 shots? 6 assists? 8-of-9 at the free throw line?!? ) with a horrid night from Sullivan and a total disappearing act from Hargrove would have surely resulted in some serious follicular damage. If Auburn had gotten anything like this from reed vs. Miss. St. they’d have won that game by two possessions; if Sullivan and Hargrove had played anything like the way they’d played against Miss. St. they’d have beaten Florida by two possessions. You can’t say it’s surprising, though, when it’s been like this all season.

— Of course, one way to avoid that kind of inconsistency is to get to the free throw line rather than taking jumpers, and force your opponent to do the opposite. Has Auburn learned their lesson from the last several games about the dangers of fouling anything that moves? Florida shot 32-of-40 at the line last night. So no. The Gators shot 33 percent from the floor in the second half and didn’t hit a single three … and increased their lead by five points.

— Nearly everyone I know who’s followed this team has been screaming for Ty Armstrong to get more run, and finally last night he got 16 minutes as Johnnie Lett got the start and not a drop else (4 minutes). Result? Five points on one shot (with four free throws drawn), zero turnovers, four boards (two offensive), one assist. Three fouls to zero blocks mean he’s still got some defensive work to do, but that’s still quite a start.

— I wish I could tell you that Arkansas had cooled off and that Auburn’s play-to-a-draw with the Hogs in Fayetteville promised good things for Saturday. But since then the Hogs have just bludgeoned LSU, been competitive on the road with an Alabama team that’s better than their record, and destroyed South Carolina. Part of me wants to say they’re due for a little bit of a slip, but that’s also now a seven-game stretch in which they’ve gone 6-1 with the one defeat by five points.

In short: Auburn’s going to have to be very good to beat them.

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