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Resilient Auburn looks to keep tourney run alive
March 13, 2015

JordonGranger
Jordon Granger and Auburn are still dancing in the SEC Tournament


By Charles Goldberg
AuburnTigers.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Auburn is your surprise guest in Friday's third round of the SEC basketball tournament, and the players and coaches hope their run will continue in a 2:30 p.m. game against LSU.

After beating Mississippi State on Wednesday, and surprising Texas A&M on Thursday, why not?

"Nobody else expected us to be in the situation we're in, but we know how good we are, and if we play defense the way we've been doing like the last few games, we can beat anybody," said guard KT Harrell after Auburn's latest accomplishment, a 66-59 victory over Texas A&M on Thursday.

Auburn and LSU split during the regular season in a most odd way. The Tigers won in Baton Rouge. LSU won in Auburn.

But it was Auburn that had to play its way into Friday's third round after being seeded 13th in the tournament. LSU, by virtue of a Top 4 finish in the league, was seeded fourth and received a double bye into the third round.

LSU figures to have fresh legs. Auburn played two games in a 20-hour span Wednesday and Thursday.

"There's no challenge in playing two in a row. In fact, the advantage goes to the team playing back-to-back," said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. "The three-game thing is a real challenge because fatigue will be a huge factor."

Auburn hasn't put much stock in the tournament seedings, knocking off No. 12-seed Mississippi State and No. 5-seed Texas A&M, and that after losing six consecutive games before coming to Nashville.

"It shows how much we fight we have and how resilient we are," said Harrell, who scored 25 Thursday. "We've had a tough season, but we haven't thought about that. We're not afraid to play anybody."

Auburn held Texas A&M to just two field goals in the first 18 minutes of the second half after seizing the momentum with a 16-1 run coming out of halftime.

That was the kind of basketball Auburn and Bruce Pearl had talked about, but had trouble showing, the second half of the season. But, Harrell said, "Coach never gave up on us. He knew if we played the way we're capable of playing, we can win a lot of games. He's always stuck with us, saying we can do it, and we can do it together. He's been a good inspiration for everybody on this team."

Pearl has given the credit to his players.

"Sorry we haven't been able to win more, but these kids haven't quit... they keep competing and the results of that we're seeing in the tournament," Pearl said. "When you lose 19 games, it's hard to continue to come back, but these kids keep coming back."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:

 

 

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