Thursday, January 22, 2009
I'll have the usual
Auburn went on the road last night to the toughest place to play in the SEC and fought hard and it was a close game in the second half and they played strong defense and hung tough but in the end they didn't shoot well enough and lost and blah blah blah blah blah.
What's funny about Auburn is that while that little thumbnail sketch isn't entirely inaccurate, it sort of lends itself to the idea that Auburn does a lot of little things well, but they just can't shoot. That's not entirely the case, because Auburn does one thing in particular extremely well: steal the ball. The Tigers forced 22 Kentucky turnovers last night and currently rank 4th in the country in steal percentage. Now, if they don't force a turnover, bad things tend to happen--the Wildcats shot nearly 53 percent from the floor and went to the line a whopping 32 times--but hey, at least it's something to hang one's hat on.
And last night, at least, it wouldn't be accurate to say that all of Auburn's shooting sucked. Everyone figured Auburn had to hit some threes to hang around, and that's more-or-less what they did, banging home 10-of-26. That's 38.5 percent, which isn't eye-popping, but it's still well above Auburn's season average and is pretty gosh-darned good regardless of context. (Remember that scoring-wise, shooting 33 percent from 3 is the equivalent of hitting 50 percent from inside the arc.)
But here's the problem: Auburn was awful shooting 2's. 39 percent awful, 11 points worse than their season average. How could that happen, when we've got a guy like Vot Barber, who shoots 56 percent inside? This is how: Barber took 5 shots. 5. Meanwhile, Reed, Waller, Hargrove, and Robertson combined to take 21 two-point shots and hit 5 of them. And not that I guess it matters, given Auburn's remarkable free-throw woes, but Auburn only took 6 foul shots. (Hitting ... wait for it ... 2.) It doesn't matter how well you're shooting from outside if every time you take the ball inside, something goes wrong.
And so the song remains the same: good effort, close game, grudging respect from the opposition, a pat on the head, and defeat. 1-3 SEC. Lather, rinse, repeat.
It's not like this all over. This is your reminder that Auburn's steamroller of a women's basketball team will be steamrolling Alabama at home tonight. Or at least, they'd better be--that Tennessee game's awesomeness quotient is going to be a lot higher if Auburn's still perfect come tomorrow morning. Plus, perhaps more importantly, an Alabama win would their first in the SEC. On Auburn's home floor. To ruin the perfect record. That can't happen, can it?
No, it cannot. Bludgeon them, ladies.