1997-98 Season in Review

Fourth consecutive winning season

What a season 1997-98 was for the Auburn Tigers. A preseason fifth place pick in the SEC's Western Division, the Tigers went beyond all expectations culminating with their first postseason win in a decade by reaching the NIT second round and claiming their fourth straight winning season. In fact, the Tigers, which entered the season with scholarship reductions, finished the last month of the season with only seven scholarship players, two football players and two walk-ons.

Auburn finished 16-14 overall and 7-9 in the SEC's Western Division to finish in third. The Tigers claimed a 68-67 win over 12th-ranked and Western Division Champion Ole Miss and a first round NIT win over Southern Miss.

"I have never been more proud of a team than I have of our team this season," head coach Cliff Ellis said. "They had an outstanding year. Winning its first postseason game in 10 years and having its fourth straight winning season were great accomplishments."

The Tigers opened the season with a FOX nationally-televised 68-42 loss to #24 Temple in the NABC Classic in Albuquerque, N.M. However, Auburn rebounded with five straight wins at Central Florida, Nicholls State, Southern Miss, Wofford and Florida A&M. The Tigers swept a Southern Miss squad that finished 22-11 to set the school's record for wins in a season.

Auburn split a pair of games in the Cougar Classic in Provo, Utah, losing to Pepperdine 62-55 before beating Weber State 63-58 in the consolation game. The Tigers closed out their non-conference schedule with wins over Jacksonville State and Patriot League Champ Navy and a loss to UAB.

The Tigers won their SEC opener for the first time in a decade with a 73-62 win over Georgia, which had just lost to #1 North Carolina in overtime. Auburn then went 2-0 in SEC play by claiming a 74-69 victory at Tennessee, an eventual NCAA Tournament participant. Smith became the first Tiger in five years to be named SEC player-of-the-week for his 16-point, 10-rebound, eight-assist and five-steal performance against the Vols.

1998 Auburn Basketball Awards Banquet

MVP: Doc Robinson
Top Rebounder: Mamadou N'diaye
Top Defensive Player: Bryant Smith
Top Offensive Player: Scott Pohlman
Hustle Award: Clifton Robinson, Kendell Mack, John Gomillion, Dudley Smith
Sixth-Man Award: Daymeon Fishback
Academic Achievement Award: Franklin Williams
Paul Lambert/Tommy Joe Eagles Award for Leadership: Franklin Williams

Following a loss at LSU, Auburn again made history by handing Alabama a 94-40 thrashing, the Crimson Tide's worst loss in its basketball history.

"What a great win over Alabama," Ellis said. "This team will always be remembered for that. They made history."

Sitting atop the SEC's Western Division, Auburn then lost a pair of games to #18 Arkansas 79-65 and #14 South Carolina 61-56. However, the Tigers responded again. Without leading scorer Bryant Smith, who was serving a one-game suspension, the Tigers defeated Mississippi State 69-66 in Starkville. The amazing come-from-behind win over Ole Miss on Doc Robinson's game-winning 15-foot jumper came next. Robinson was the second Tiger this season to be named SEC player-of-the-week for hitting both game-winning shots against Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

Auburn then lost at Alabama, but came back to sweep Mississippi State with a 68-66 overtime victory following Smith's game-winning steal and layup as time expired.

After a loss at Florida and a win over LSU, Auburn was reduced to seven players on scholarship as Randy Hughes and Derek Caldwell were suspended the remaining of the season for violation of team rules. The Tigers then lost their last four regular season games against a postseason tournament field that consisted of games at Vanderbilt, at #16 Arkansas, #7 Kentucky and at #13 Ole Miss. Florida then upset the Tigers in the first round of the SEC Tournament.

The Tigers gained their first NIT win in four tries as it defeated Southern Miss 77-62 in the first round. In the second round in Milwaukee, Wis., Auburn led Marquette by five points with 24 seconds left. However, following a missed Auburn free throw with 11 seconds left, Marquette nailed a three to send the game into overtime. Marquette scored all 15 points in overtime to end Auburn's over-achieving season.

Bryant Smith, who averaged 13.3 points and shot 51 percent from the field, was selected to the Knoxville News-Sentinel Coaches' All-SEC second-team and was an honorable mention pick by the Associated Press. Scott Pohlman, who was a fixture in the Tigers' starting lineup after the season opener, was named to the Knoxville News-Sentinel Coaches' Freshman All-SEC first-team and was an honorable mention Freshman All-American by Basketball Weekly.

Smith led the SEC with 2.4 steals per game while Mamadou N'diaye was ranked second in the league with 2.4 blocks.

Franklin Williams, who had a 4.0 GPA in graduate school, finished with 1,027 career points, good for a tie for 21st on Auburn's all-time scoring chart.

Auburn's schedule was ranked 18th in the nation in 1997-98 and the Tigers played 18 of 30 games against 1998 postseason teams. Of the 23 teams the Tigers played, 15 of them were against postseason teams.

1997-98 NOTES


Auburn's 77-62 victory over Southern Miss in the NIT first round marked the Tigers' first postseason tournament win since defeating Bradley in the 1988 NCAA Tournament first round. Since then, Auburn had lost to Oklahoma in the 1988 NCAA second round, at Clemson in the 1993 NIT, vs. Marquette in the 1995 NIT and Tulane in the 1996 NIT.


Auburn made its third postseason appearance in four years in 1997-98, having played in both the 1995 and 1996 NITs. The Tigers made five straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 1984-88 under Sonny Smith. Auburn has an 8-9 record (.471) in postseason tournament play, including a 7-5 mark in NCAA Tournaments and a 1-4 record in NIT action.


Bryant Smith

  • Coaches All-SEC second-team (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
  • All-SEC honorable mention (Associated Press)
  • All-District 6 second-team (National Assoc. of Basketball Coaches)
  • SEC Player of the Week (Jan. 5-11)

Scott Pohlman

  • Coaches All-SEC Freshman first-team (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
  • Freshman All-American honorable mention (Basketball Weekly)

Doc Robinson

  • SEC Player of the Week (Feb. 2)


Auburn's schedule was ranked 18th in the country in 1997-98, and the Tigers played 18 of 30 games against 1998 postseason teams. Of the 23 teams the Tigers played, 15 of them were against postseason teams. The eight NCAA teams Auburn played were National Champion Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas (twice), Ole Miss (twice), Tennessee, Temple, Navy and Nicholls State. The five NIT teams the Tigers played were Florida (twice), Georgia, Vanderbilt, Southern Miss (twice), Marquette and UAB.


Cliff Ellis made his 10th appearance as a head coach in the NIT in 1997-98. Ellis is 9-10 (.474) in the NIT, including reaching the quarterfinals four times -- with Auburn this season, Clemson in 1994 and 1985 and with South Alabama in 1981.


Cliff Ellis made his 15th appearance as a head coach in postseason play this past season. The 21-year Div. I head coaching veteran has a 12-15 (.444) record in postseason play, 9-10 in nine NITs and 3-5 in five NCAAs.


Tiger head coach Cliff Ellis claimed Div. I victory #400 in a 70-63 road win against Central Florida in the second game of the season. With a 415-267 career Div. I record, Ellis ranks second among current SEC head coaches in total victories (Arkansas' Nolan Richardson is 433-155). Including three years of coaching Cumberland (Tenn.) College, Ellis has an overall head coaching record of 493-279.


The Southeastern Conference led all conferences with nine teams representing it in postseason play. Conferences with eight teams include the ACC, Big 10 and WAC.


Junior Bryant Smith was named to the Knoxville News-Sentinel Coaches' All-SEC second team. Others on the team included Arkansas' Pat Bradley and Nick Davis, South Carolina's Melvin Watson, Tennessee's C.J. Black and Kentucky's Scott Padgett.


Bryant Smith was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 6 second team. Others on the team include Georgia's G.G. Smith, Florida State's Randell Jackson, Southern Miss' Kelly McCarty and Central Florida's Mark Jones.


Auburn's Scott Pohlman was named an honorable mention Freshman All-American by Basketball Weekly. The Roswell, Ga., native broke into the Tigers' starting lineup after the season opener and stayed there the remainder of the year, averaging 10.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. He led Auburn with 53 made 3-pointers and started 29 of 30 games.


Auburn's Scott Pohlman was named to the Knoxville News-Sentinel Coaches' Freshman All-SEC first-team. Others on the team include Georgia's Jumaine Jones, South Carolina's Antonio Grant, Tennessee's Tony Harris while Tennessee's Isiah Victor, Vanderbilt's Greg LaPointe and Florida's Brent Wright all tied for the final spot.


Basketball Weekly recognized Auburn freshman Scott Pohlman as part of "The Next Generation," which included those "who have made a healthy first impression in their rookie season."

7 UP

Auburn played the last seven games of the season with only seven scholarship players after Randy Hughes and Derek Caldwell were suspended for violation of team rules prior to the Feb. 21 game at Arkansas. Auburn lost six of seven games without the pair. Of the seven remaining, one was a freshman and three were sophomores.


Junior Bryant Smith led the SEC in steals (2.4) and ranked third in the league in field goal percentage (50.6).


Franklin Williams, nicknamed "The Governor," scored 14 points against #7 Kentucky on the Tigers' Senior Night to become the 23rd Tiger to reach the coveted 1,000-point club. The 1997 Auburn graduate in Social Science Education, who was enrolled in graduate school, finished his career in a tie for 21st on the Tiger scoring chart with 1,027 points with Bill Alexander (1968-70).


Auburn had its fourth consecutive winning season under Cliff Ellis. In fact, Auburn hasn't had four straight winning seasons since 10 years ago when Sonny Smith's Tigers had six straight winning campaigns from 1983-88.

Cliff Ellis and the legendary Joel Eaves are the only two coaches to post winning records in their first three seasons at Auburn. Eaves, the all-time winningest coach in Tiger history, accomplished the feat 45 years ago.


Mamadou N'diaye had 73 blocks this season to break the school single-season blocked shots record of 51 by Charles Barkley. Sir Charles swatted 51 shots in 28 games in the 1981-82 season. In case you were wondering, the SEC single-season record for blocks is 157 by Shaquille O'Neal in 1991-92.


Auburn's 152 blocked shots this season was a school single-season record. The 1984-85 Tigers which included the Spurs' Chuck Person, the Jazz's Chris Morris and Jeff Moore held the previous record at 118.


The Tigers were 12-3 in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum this year, tying the school record for most home wins in a season (12-0 in 1974-75).


Auburn won an SEC opener for the first time in 10 years with its 73-62 victory over Georgia, which had just lost to #1 North Carolina in overtime. It was only the Tigers' second league opening win in 14 years. The Tigers had lost nine straight league openers dating back to 1988 when Auburn downed Florida 72-67 and won at #1 Kentucky 53-52 to open SEC play.


Auburn was an almost perfect 14-1 when scoring 68 or more points in a game this season. The Tigers were 2-13 when scoring fewer than 68 points.


Luck has nothing to do with the way junior Bryant Smith (#13) is played for the Tigers. Here were his rankings in the SEC stats for all games:

  • steals (2.4) -- 1st
  • field goal pct. (50.6) -- 3rd
  • rebounds (6.6) -- 10th
  • scoring (13.3) -- 15th

He led Auburn in all four categories.


Bryant Smith was a warrior for the Tigers. Ranked 10th in the SEC in rebounding at 6.6 rpg, he almost had as many offensive rebounds as defensive rebounds. Of Smith's 185 boards, 92 were offensive and 93 were defensive.




  • (Hughes, N'diaye, Smith, Pohlman, Robinson) 3-0
  • (Chilliest, N'diaye, Smith, Pohlman, Robinson) 2-1
  • (Williams, N'diaye, Fishback, Pohlman, Robinson) 1- 2
  • (Chilliest, N'diaye, Williams, Pohlman, Robinson) 2-1
  • (Williams, N'diaye, Smith, Pohlman, Robinson) 8-8
  • (Chilliest, N'diaye, Smith, Fishback, Robinson) 0-1
  • (Chilliest, N'diaye, Smith, Fishback, Pohlman) 0-1
  • When Auburn leads at the half 12-2
  • When opponent leads at the half 4-11
  • When it is tied at the half 0-1
  • When Auburn leads with five minutes left 14-1
  • When opponent leads with five minutes left 1-1 2
  • When tied with five minutes left 1 - 1
  • When Auburn leads with one minute left 15-0
  • When opponent leads with one minute left 0-14
  • When tied with one minute left 1-0
  • When Auburn outrebounds opponent 13-6
  • When opponent outrebounds Auburn 3-7
  • When rebounds are the same 0-1
  • When AU shoots 50% or better from floor 4-0
  • When AU shoots less than 50% from floor 12-14
  • When opp. shoots 50% or better from floor 0-3
  • When opp. shoots less than 50% from floor 16- 11


After Auburn freshman wide receiver Clifton Robinson finished with the Tigers' 10-3 football season, the 5-8, 176 guard joined Auburn's basketball team at Tennessee Jan. 7. He played the final minute of the first half vs. the Vols after only practicing for the first time two days earlier. He scored a career-high seven points to end the first half of Auburn's second round NIT game at Marquette. He also scored six points in Auburn's 94-40 victory over Alabama. He averaged 1.8 points while shooting 44 percent from the field and 46 percent from 3-point range in 12 games.

The Naples, Fla., native was a two-time first-team all-state selection in basketball and football (and a PrepStar All-America) at Barron Collier High School last year. A brother of Colorado running back Herman Troutman, Robinson averaged 29.0 points per game in basketball and rushed for 2,250 yards in football as a senior in high school.

For the football Tigers this year, Robinson was fifth on the team with 15 receptions for 201 yards. He had a career long 64-yard reception at Arkansas. He also averaged 19.8 yards on four kickoff returns and 8.5 yards on six punt returns.

Kendell Mack, a 6-5, 317, offensive lineman on the Tigers' football team, joined the basketball squad Jan. 12 for his first practice. He dressed for his first game Jan. 18 vs. Alabama and scored 3 points in 5 minutes of play. He averaged 1.4 points and shot 80 percent from the field in eight games.

Mack was a two-time first-team all-state selection in basketball at St. Stephens High School in Pineville, S.C. He averaged 18 points and 21 rebounds as a senior at St. Stephens after averaging 21 points and 17 rebounds as a junior. He was also a two-time first-team all-state selection in football and was named Class 2A player of the year in South Carolina as a senior.

For Terry Bowden's Tigers, Mack is a three-year letterman who played in all 12 games and made his second career start at tight tackle against Mississippi State this past year. He graded 100 percent on 11 snaps in the SEC Championship Game against Tennessee.

Here is a listing of Auburn's previous football-basketball lettermen:

* Ralph "Shug" Jordan (hoops: 1930-32)
        (football: center, 1929-31)
* Erk Russell (basketball: 1947, 1948)
        (football: end, 1946-49)
* Tim Christian (basketball:  1967)
        (football: wingback, 1966-68)
* Reese McCall (basketball: 1976)
        (football: tight end, 1975-77)
* Benny Anthony (basketball: 1977-80)
        (football: tight end, 1980)


Kendell "The Big" Mack, who weighs in at 6-5, 317, and is an offensive lineman on the football team, scored 3 points in 5 minutes of play in his first game as a basketball Tiger in the 94-40 win over Alabama. He also had 3 points and a rebound vs. LSU and a career-high 4 points in 3 minutes at Vanderbilt. He is 4-5 from the field on the year. Administrative assistant Jacob Ridenhour had to special order "Big Mac" a size 56 jersey because the biggest one Auburn had was size 52.


The Tigers averaged 5.1 blocks per game, 152 blocks on the season, tying the school record previously held by the 1984-85 team of Charles Barkley, Chris Morris and Jeff Moore. N'diaye has a school single-season record 73 blocks.

The Tigers had a school record 15 blocks vs. Jacksonville State and it ranked as the sixth most in SEC history.


Here are Auburn's results with 5 minutes remaining in its games:

  • AU leading: 14-1 (lost to Florida)
  • AU trailing: 1-12 (won vs. Weber St.)
  • Tied: 1-1 (won vs. Miss. State)


Here are Auburn's results with 1 minute remaining in its games:

  • AU leading: 15-0
  • AU trailing: 0-14
  • Tied: 1-0 (Mississippi State)


Senior Franklin Williams, nicknamed "The Governor" because of his gentlemanly attire, graduated in June 1997 with a B.A. degree in Social Science Education. He was enrolled in graduate school during the season and had a 4.0 GPA winter quarter.


Never in the 92 seasons and 1,894 games of Auburn Basketball has a Tiger recorded a coveted triple-double.


Auburn has a 39-34 (.534) record in overtime games in its history. The Tigers were 1-1 in overtime this season, defeating Mississippi State 68-66 and losing to Marquette 75-60 in the second round of the NIT.


Double-figure scoring games (93): Bryant Smith 23, Doc Robinson 22, Scott Pohlman 16, Franklin Williams 11, Daymeon Fishback 9, Mamadou N'diaye 9, Randy Hughes 5, Derek Caldwell 2, Adrian Chilliest 2, Opponents 87.
20-point scoring games (9): Bryant Smith 4, Scott Pohlman 2, Doc Robinson 2, Daymeon Fishback 1, Opponents 12.
Double-figure rebounding games (11): Bryant Smith 5, Mamadou N'diaye 3, Randy Hughes 2, Adrian Chilliest 1, Opponents 7.
Double-Doubles (7): Bryant Smith 5, Mamadou N'diaye 2, Opponents 6.
Games leading AU in scoring: Doc Robinson 12, Bryant Smith 10, Scott Pohlman 5, Randy Hughes 3, Daymeon Fishback 2, Mamadou N'diaye 2, Franklin Williams 1.
Games leading AU in rebounding: Mamadou N'diaye 14, Bryant Smith 10, Randy Hughes 7, Adrian Chilliest 3, Daymeon Fishback 1, Doc Robinson 1.
Dunks (54): Bryant Smith 23, Mamadou N'diaye 22, Randy Hughes 8, Adrian Chilliest 1.


Auburn concluded its 30th year of play in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum in 1997-98. Within the friendly confines of the arena, Auburn boasts a 157-67 record (.701) over the past 16 seasons. Overall, the Tigers are 245-129 (.655) since its first season in the coliseum in 1968-69. Only five times in the 30-year history of the arena has Auburn experienced a losing record at home. The Tigers were 12-3 in the Coliseum this year, tying the school record for most home wins in a season (12-0 in 1974-75).


In its 92-year history of basketball, Auburn has a 1001-892-1 record (.529).


Auburn: 26, Bryant Smith vs. Wofford
Opp.: 31, Kenyan Weaks, Florida

AU: 8, Hughes/Smith/Robinson/Fish./N'diaye
Opp.: 13, Kenyan Weaks, Florida

Auburn: 19, Doc Robinson at Alabama
Opp.: 23, Jerome James, Florida A&M

Auburn: 5, Daymeon Fishback at Arkansas
Opp.: 8, J. Williams (Fla.)/T. Wallace (Ark.)

Auburn: 10, Scott Pohlman at Alabama/Florida
Opp.: 12, Jason Williams, at Florida

Auburn: 13, Bryant Smith vs. Georgia
Opp.: 16, Ansu Sesay, Ole Miss

Auburn: 21, Bryant Smith vs. Georgia
Opp.: 17, Ansu Sesay, Ole Miss

Auburn: 13, Bryant Smith vs. FAMU/Wofford
Opp.: 17, Nick Davis, Arkansas

Auburn: 8, Doc Robinson vs. Nicholls State
Opp.: 8, Aaron Hutchins, at Marquette

Auburn: 7, Mamadou N'diaye at Alabama
Opp.: 9, Matt Sladky, Navy

Auburn: 6, Randy Hughes vs. Jacksonville St.
Opp.: 7, Jeremy Hays, at Alabama

Auburn: 6, Bryant Smith vs. Wofford
Opp.: 6, Jeremy Hays, at Alabama


Player Points Rebounds Assists (Blocks*)
Derek Caldwell 12 vs. Georgia 5 at Tennessee 2 at Tennessee
Adrian Chilliest 11 vs. Florida 12 vs. Southern Miss 1 , four times
Daymeon Fishback 24 at Arkansas 7 vs. Ark./MSU/at Fla. 5 at Marquette
John Gomillion 3 vs. Alabama 1 vs. Nicholls State 1 vs. Alabama/JSU
Randy Hughes 17 at Central Fla. 13 at Alabama *6 vs. Jacksonville St.
Kendell Mack 4 at Vanderbilt 2 vs. #7 Kentucky ---
Mamadou N'diaye 19 vs. So. Miss 11 vs. Alabama *5 vs. OM/USM/FAMU
Scott Pohlman 21 vs. So. Miss 6 at Mississippi State 5 vs. Jacksonville St.
Clifton Robinson 7 at Marquette 3 vs. Alabama 1 vs. Ark./LSU/Ala.
Doc Robinson 21 vs. So. Miss 9 vs. LSU 8 vs. Nicholls State
Bryant Smith 26 vs. Wofford 13 vs. FAMU/Wofford 8 at Tennessee
Dudley Smith 3 vs. Navy 4 vs. Jacksonville St. 1 vs. Jacksonville St.
Franklin Williams 16 at Arkansas 8 vs. Nicholls St./So. Miss 3 vs. Georgia

Last Modified April 14, 1998
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