Thursday, February 26, 2009

So this is what competence looks like

The first thing I thought about after reading that Auburn had downed Ole Miss 77-64 in the suddenly-friendly confines of Beard-Eaves was "Cool. Good. As expected."

There's plenty of reasons that by now, a win like last night's is no big deal. Sure, the Rebels ran Auburn out of the gym not so long ago, but Auburn's still an upper-half (just barely, but still) SEC team playing at home against a team that's won one road game all season. Operating at the "normal" capacity established over the past couple of weeks would mean a comfortable victory.

And that's just what Auburn did. After slacking off on defense for a half, Quantez Robertson hit a miracle three to send Auburn into the locker room with some mometum ... but more importantly, the Tigers decided they'd actually better play some D in the second stanza. (Lebo's switch to a match-up zone likely had something to do with it as well.) The result was a 23-5 run to start the half and the sort of cruise to victory we've associated with the Auburn women this season. Ho-hum.

But that in itself shows why this victory is much more than "ho-hum." The Tigers have reached the point where a run-of-the-mill home win over a run-of-the-mill SEC team has become, well, run-of-the-mill. In previous years ... when this year started ... hell, even after that ridiculous home Vandy loss, I for one would never have expected that to be the case. This--77-64 home wins over Ole Miss--is what progress looks like. Please continue, Auburn.

Some other notes:

--Wow, when was the last time Auburn turned the ball over 13 fewer times than their opponent? (Actually, thanks to BBState, I know it was the Louisiana-Monroe game. But that's the only time this year.) That (and 13 more trips to the line) is how you win by 13 points on a night when you shoot or rebound any better than your opponent.

--Here's some more good news: Auburn's been even better than the score's suggested these last two games. After LSU went 20-of-21 from the stripe, Ole Miss went 15-of-16. That's a combined 95 percent! Safe to say Auburn's future opponents aren't going to be quite so flukishly fortunate from the line.

--Dewayne Reed's line: 19 points on 13 shots, 3-to-0 assist-to-TO ratio, 3 steals. Gettin' it done.

--This Saturday's game against Miss. St. is massive. Both teams have similar schedules, with one difficult opponent at home (LSU for Auburn, Florida for the Bulldogs) and one easier opponent on the road (Alabama for Auburn, Ole Miss for State). In the end, the schedules are about of equal difficulty, since Auburn has the tougher home date but State the tougher roadie ... meaning this Saturday's tilt should be for all the marbles. Well, marbles that in this particular case are the marbles of "SEC West runner-up and SEC tourney bye."

Elsewhere ... Auburn baseball blasted Lipscomb 17-4 Tuesday, though Plainsman Parking Lot (already a must-read if you care about this team in the slightest) says it was more Bison "ineptitude" than Auburn brilliance. We won't have long to wait for a bona fide measuring stick, though: the Tigers kick off a four-game series against No. 5 Florida St. today. PPL has all the previewin' you need.


jd said...

This season has definitely been Lebo's finest on the Plains. However, I'd like to point out what could have been.

Mike Anderson has Missouri in the top 10. He inherited that program in complete disarray from the Quin Snyder era. It was possibly in worse shape than Auburn's program when Lebo came in. However, in his 3rd year in Columbia, he has Mizzou in the top 10 with a 24-4 (11-2) record. Granted, Missouri has a better basketball tradition than Auburn, but I'd imagine if we'd hired Anderson back in 2004, we would either be on our way to our first NCAA tournament bid post-Ellis, or would have had one already.

This comment was not meant to take away from the job Lebo's done this year (outside the two unforgivable home losses to Mercer and Vandy...seriously, we'd be in NCAA discussions right now if we'd won those two games). I'm just pointing out that we missed out on a great coach.

easyedwin said...

jd......spilled milk. We are digging ourselves out of the hole of hell holes. The question now is will we beat State on the road? The answer is yes, if Waller is hot and we stay out of foul trouble and we hit our free throws.