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SEC Tournament surprise Auburn looks to upset 'Cats
March 14, 2015

Good times in the SEC Tournament on Friday for Auburn's Antoine Mason, left, Devin Waddell, center, and Malcom Canada

By Charles Goldberg

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Bruce Pearl says Auburn may not be a team of destiny, but three wins in three days of the Southeastern Conference Tournament has turned heads, and the Tigers' coach says the surprising run shows a lot about his basketball team.

"I just think it's a lesson in adversity reveals character," he said after Friday's 73-70 overtime win over LSU that brings the underdog Tigers to a Saturday noon game against mighty Kentucky Wildcats.

Auburn, winners of four SEC games during the regular season, will try for its fourth win against a league team in four days of this tournament, and it will come less than 24 hours after KT Harrell's pressure-packed 3-pointer with a few tenths of a second left forced an overtime against LSU, a period that Auburn won.

The odds may be long in handling the giant-sized and No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats, Pearl knows, for the Wildcats beat Auburn 110-75 in Lexington on Feb. 21, and the shorthanded and smallish Tigers will be even more shorthanded as Jordon Granger serves a one-game suspension for throwing a punch against LSU.

The Tigers will give it their best shot, and that means everybody... and that includes Kentucky...will be looking to Harrell, because he's the SEC's leading scorer, and he scored 29 against LSU, including Auburn's last 11 points in regulation and four more in overtime.

"Everything we do to get KT Harrell the ball, they could care less," Pearl said of Kentucky. "They're just going to switch out, and it doesn't matter which monster is going to guard him -- and I say that with all due respect. They are so well drilled, and they'll figure out what we're trying to do and they'll make it very difficult to get him the ball.

"They're going to make somebody else beat them, and we'll figure out who that somebody else could be."

Still, Auburn has crashed the SEC Tournament with three wins, all against higher seeded teams.

"We have this opportunity to go play against the most storied program in the history of college basketball, the best team in the country, and in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. We will try to represent," Pearl said. "We're going to be shorthanded. We're already the smallest team in the league, and probably in all of high major conferences going up against the biggest team, maybe in the history of Division I basketball."

For guard Malcolm Canada, that means another chance to advance, just like the win against LSU.

"Commitment on defense. That's how you win games. That's how you win championships," Canada said. "If you don't listen to the scouting report, if we don't stay committed, we lose that game. We put an emphasis on staying committed to the defense, knowing your job, do your job."

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



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