| Jeff Lebo
Resurrecting a program that had reached rock bottom when he took over
in 2004-05, Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo and his 2008-09 Tigers recorded
the second most wins in Auburn history by going 24-12 and tied for
second overall in the SEC with a 10-6 record. The Tigers were one of the
last teams left out of the NCAA Tournament and came within an eyelash of
the NIT Final Four.
Auburn ended the season on a tear as it won eight of its last nine SEC
regular season games and nine of 10 after defeating Florida in the SEC
Tournament quarterfinals. Eight of Auburn's 11 SEC wins were by double
The Tigers won 10 SEC regular season games for only the second time in
21 years and had a winning league record for only the eighth time in 39
Auburn's 73-51 victory at Arkansas was the Razorbacks' worst loss in
the 16-year Bud Walton Arena history while the Tigers' 76-58 win at
Mississippi State tied its largest margin of victory in Starkville. The
71-59 win at Georgia was Auburn's largest in Athens since 1977.
Auburn came back from a 13-point deficit with 14 minutes to play to win
at Alabama 77-73 and sweep the Crimson Tide for the second time in three
Lebo enters his sixth season at Auburn in 2009-10 with the program
rolling in the right direction with a new $92 million arena opening the
Without a single senior on the roster, he led Auburn to a 17-15 (7-9
SEC) record in 2006-07, the Tigers' first winning season since 2003.
Auburn came within 40 seconds of winning the SEC Western Division title
as it had the ball up by three points at Ole Miss in the regular season
finale. In tying for third in the SEC West, Auburn and its seven SEC
wins were also the most since winning eight in 2003.
Auburn swept Alabama for the first time since 1999, and the first time
in history when Alabama was nationally-ranked both times. The win in
Tuscaloosa was the Tigers' second in the last 23 years.
Auburn defeated teams that were ranked throughout the season in No. 12
Alabama, No. 22 Tennessee, No. 25 Alabama and ranked Vanderbilt and
previously ranked LSU.
It also marked the first time in 12 seasons that Auburn defeated ranked
teams two-straight times in its 83-80 upset over No. 22 Tennessee
followed up with an 81-57 victory over No. 12 Alabama.
Lebo began his reclamation project at Auburn in leading the Tigers to
an over-achieving 14-17 (4-12 SEC) record in 2004-05, his first season
at Auburn in turning around a decimated Tiger program. Four starters
and nine lettermen were lost from the 2003-04 Tigers that finished one
spot out of the cellar in the 12-team SEC at 14-14 (5-11 SEC).
The Tigers, who were a consensus last-place pick in the SEC, tied for
10th in the league in 2004-05. They equalled the win total from the
previous season with far less talent and had the shortest Div. I team in
America with only one player taller than 6-foot-6.
In Lebo's first game as head coach at Auburn, the Tigers claimed a
thrilling 80-78 upset on the road against Temple and legendary head
coach John Chaney. A perfect 5-0 start was halted with a narrow 89-87
loss to 24th-ranked Virginia in Richmond.
Other highlights included a 51-point turnaround as Auburn avenged a
90-53 thrashing at No. 18 Mississippi State in the SEC opener for a
90-76 win over the defending SEC Champion Bulldogs in
Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. The Tigers had a 49-point turnaround as
they were annihilated at Arkansas 95-59, but defeated the Razorbacks
77-64 in Auburn on Senior Day.
Auburn advanced to the SEC Tournament quarterfinals as it upset a
Vanderbilt team that was on the NCAA Tournament bubble in the first
round. The Tigers avenged a 67-43 home loss to the Commodores three
weeks prior. A 74-71 SEC road win at South Carolina was huge as the
Gamecocks, who defeated No. 3 Kentucky the following game, were fighting
for a NCAA Tournament bid.
In Lebo's second season, the Tigers went from the smallest team in Div.
I to the youngest in 2005-06. Auburn, with only one senior in Ronny
LeMelle on its roster, started four freshmen eight times. Purdue was
the only other team to start a rookie quartet, and the Boilermakers only
did it once.
A consensus last place pick, Auburn went 12-16 (4-12 SEC) to tie for
fifth in the SEC's Western Division. The Tigers defeated Temple, swept
Ole Miss and nearly knocked off a pair of Final Four teams, losing to
LSU 65-61 and at eventual National Champion Florida 69-57.
Losing its entire frontline in a pair of 6-foot-7 junior forwards in
Josh Dollard for the whole season and Korvotney Barber from Dec. 29 on
as well as 7-foot-1 freshman center Boubacar Sylla from Nov. 13 on in
the 2007-08 season, the Tigers went 14-16 (4-12 SEC). Auburn players
missed a combined 4733 minutes on the season.
The Tigers did sweep NIT finalist Ole Miss and defeated Alabama 88-76
on CBS. The Rebels were ranked 15th nationally when the Tigers beat
them on Jan. 19.
Lebo was named the Tigers' 19th head basketball coach on April 8, 2004.
In his 21 years as a Div. I head coach, assistant coach and player,
Lebo has won wherever he has been. To his credit are nine conference
championships ... two in six years as a head coach, four as an assistant
coach and three as a player.
He has been a part of two Southeastern Conference Championships at
different schools, three Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, two
Ohio Valley Conference Championships and a pair of Southern Conference
In six years as a collegiate head coach prior to Auburn, Lebo turned
around two programs at Tennessee-Chattanooga and Tennessee Tech en route
to a 115-63 career record, an average of 19.2 wins per season. A pair
of Ohio Valley Conference Championships at Tennessee Tech and coming
within one game of the NIT Final Four with Tech dot Lebo's ledger.
Lebo has accumulated a very impressive 168-112 record (.600) in his
last nine seasons as a head coach ... an average of 18.7 victories a
He was an assistant coach for eight years at South Carolina, Vanderbilt
and East Tennessee State after playing the 1989-90 season with the NBA's
San Antonio Spurs.
As an All-ACC point guard and four-year starter at the University of
North Carolina from 1986-89, Lebo helped lead the Tar Heels to a 116-25
record and four trips to the NCAA Tournament, two to the Elite 8 and a
pair of Sweet 16 appearances. The Tar Heels won two ACC Regular Season
Championships and one ACC Tournament Championship with Lebo, who was a
two-time All-ACC Tournament selection and an All-ACC second-team pick in
In high school, Lebo led Carlisle (Pa.) High to a 108-9 record in his
four-year career, culminating with the 1985 Pennsylvania State Class 4A
Championship as a senior. He earned All-America honors and was a
four-time all-state selection.
His father, Dave, who has been an assistant under his son during his
entire tenure as a head coach, was the head coach at Carlisle where the
school honored him by naming the court after him in a ceremony Dec. 3,
When Lebo was named head coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga in April 2002,
he inherited a team without a returning starter and without a signee for
the upcoming season.
He transformed the Mocs into a Southern Conference championship
contender in just one season, leading UTC to a 21-9 record in 2002-03,
the school's first 20-win season in six years.
The Mocs gave Lebo a 17-point victory over Furman in his SoCon debut
and defeated NCAA Tournament participant Weber State 75-63 in the Dr.
Pepper Classic title game. Perhaps his biggest accomplishment was the
school's first two-game series sweep over the College of Charleston.
Lebo led the Mocs to a 19-11 mark in 2003-04 and came within one game
of the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season, losing to East
Tennessee State in the championship game each year. He earned his
100th-coaching victory in a 93-86 win at Tennessee State Dec. 1, 2003,
in only his 153rd game as a head coach.
Lebo became one of the youngest collegiate head coaches in the nation
when he began his coaching career in 1998-99 at Tennessee Tech,
inheriting a program that went a woeful 9-21 the year before and had a
losing record in four of the previous five seasons. However, he would
win two Ohio Valley Conference Championships in his four years at the
At the age of 32, Lebo guided the undermanned Golden Eagles to a 12-15
mark in his first season in 1998-99. The following year, Tennessee Tech
had the most wins in 10 years improving to 16-12, earning Lebo OVC Coach
of the Year honors.
In only his third season in 2000-01, Lebo led Tennessee Tech to a 20-9
record and the first of back-to-back OVC Championships. It marked the
most wins for the school in 54 years, going all the way back to 1946-47.
It was also Tech's first league title in 16 years since 1984-85, and
Lebo garnered his second-straight OVC Coach of the Year honor.
Lebo earned his third-straight OVC Coach of the Year honor as Tech
mastered a school record 27-7 mark overall and a 15-1 league record in
2001-02 en route to a second-consecutive OVC Championship. The Golden
Eagles came within one game of the NIT Final Four, losing at eventual
champion Memphis, 79-73. He was tabbed as the District VII NABC Coach
of the Year.
Tennessee Tech boasted a season-best 12-game winning streak, including
10-straight conference victories. After losing at Murray State 70-69 in
the OVC Tournament championship game, the Golden Eagles defeated Georgia
State, Dayton and Yale in the NIT. He was named the Tennessee Coach of
Lebo began his coaching career as an assistant at East Tennessee State
under Alan LeForce for two seasons from 1990-92. The Buccaneers made
two-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, advancing to the second round
in 1992 after the 14th-seeded Bucs upset No. 3-seeded Arizona 87-80.
ETSU, which was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by eventual
National runner-up Michigan and the Fab Five, 102-90, went 24-7 and won
both the 1992 Southern Conference regular season and tournament
championships. The Bucs went 28-5 in 1990-91, lost to Iowa 76-73 in the
NCAA Tournament and won both the SoCon regular season and tournament
Lebo started the first of six seasons as an assistant under coach Eddie
Fogler with a SEC Championship, a NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance
and a 28-6 record at Vanderbilt in 1992-93. The Commodores went 14-2 in
the SEC for only their third league title in history and their first
since 1974. Vanderbilt defeated Boise State and Illinois in the NCAA
Tournament before losing to Temple in the Sweet 16.
Lebo then followed Fogler to South Carolina where he spent five seasons
and helped lead the Gamecocks to their only SEC Championship in 1997 and
a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances.
After turning the South Carolina program around from 9-19 and 10-17
records the first two seasons, Fogler and Lebo led the Gamecocks to an
average of 22 wins over the next three years. USC went 19-12 and
reached the NIT third round in 1995-96, went 24-8 and won the SEC
Championship in 1996-97 and was 23-8 in 1997-98, reaching the NCAA
Tournament for the second consecutive season.
After playing for his father, Dave, at Carlisle (Pa.) High School, Lebo
was coached at North Carolina by the legendary Dean Smith, the all-time
leader in coaching victories with 879. Lebo's college teammates
included NBA greats Kenny Smith of the World Champion Houston Rockets
and now a broadcaster on TNT and Rick Fox, formerly of the World
Champion Los Angeles Lakers.
In addition to all of his success at North Carolina, Lebo left the Tar
Heels with single-season records for free throw shooting (.878 in
1987-88) and 3-point shooting (.462 in 1987-88). He still ranks among
the program's top 24 in career scoring with 1,567 points and is eighth
in career assists with 580.
A 1989 graduate of the University of North Carolina with a degree in
Business Administration, Lebo was presented the school's Patterson
Award, given to UNC's top student-athlete for academic achievement.
Lebo has developed a teaching video cassette titled "Half-Court
Trapping and Double-Teaming the Post."
Lebo was born Oct. 5, 1966, in Enola, Pa. He married the former
Melissa Mills of Williamston, N.C., on Aug. 8, 1992. The couple has two
daughters, Addison (14) and Mills (11) and a son, Creighton (7).