1997-98 Season in Review
TIGERS REACH NIT SECOND ROUND
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
"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
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,
Sixth-Man Award: Daymeon Fishback
Academic Achievement Award: Franklin Williams
Paul Lambert/Tommy Joe Eagles Award for Leadership: Franklin
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
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.
1ST POSTSEASON WIN IN 10 YEARS
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.
TIGERS IN POSTSEASON PLAY
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.
AUBURN'S POSTSEASON HONORS
- 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)
- Coaches All-SEC Freshman first-team (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
- Freshman All-American honorable mention (Basketball Weekly)
- 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.
ELLIS IN THE NIT
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.
ELLIS IN POSTSEASON PLAY
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.
ELLIS GAINS DIV. I WIN #400
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.
POSTSEASON PLAY FOR 9 OF 12 SEC TEAMS
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.
SMITH NAMED ALL-SEC 2nd TEAM
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.
SMITH NAMED NABC 2nd TEAM
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.
POHLMAN NAMED FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICAN
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.
POHLMAN NAMED FROSH ALL-SEC
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 NOTICES POHLMAN AGAIN
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."
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.
SMITH IS SEC'S STEALS LEADER
Junior Bryant Smith led the SEC in steals (2.4) and ranked third in
the league in field goal percentage (50.6).
GOV'S IN 1,000-POINT CLUB
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
4TH STRAIGHT WINNING SEASON
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
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
MAMADOU PASSES SIR CHARLES
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
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.
HOME SWEET HOME
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).
1st SEC OPENER WIN IN 10 YEARS
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.
"68" IS THE MAGIC NUMBER
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.
AUBURN'S RECORD WHEN:
- (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
FOOTBALL TIGERS JOINED HOOPS TEAM
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)
THE BIG MAC
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.
"NO SOUP FOR YOU"
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
The Tigers had a school record 15 blocks vs. Jacksonville State and
it ranked as the sixth most in SEC history.
WITH 5 MINUTES LEFT
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)
WITH 1 MINUTE LEFT
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
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.
1997-98 TIGER STAT LEADERS
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
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
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
Dunks (54): Bryant Smith 23, Mamadou N'diaye 22, Randy Hughes
8, Adrian Chilliest 1.
TIGERS IN BEMC
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).
TIGERS OVERALL RECORD
In its 92-year history of basketball, Auburn has a 1001-892-1 record
1997-98 INDIVIDUAL HIGHS
Auburn: 26, Bryant Smith vs. Wofford
Opp.: 31, Kenyan Weaks, Florida
FIELD GOALS MADE
AU: 8, Hughes/Smith/Robinson/Fish./N'diaye
Opp.: 13, Kenyan Weaks, Florida
FIELD GOALS ATTEMPTED
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
FREE THROWS MADE
Auburn: 13, Bryant Smith vs. Georgia
Opp.: 16, Ansu Sesay, Ole Miss
FREE THROWS ATTEMPTED
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
1997-98 AUBURN INDIVIDUAL SEASON HIGHS
||12 vs. Georgia
|| 5 at Tennessee
||2 at Tennessee
||11 vs. Florida
|| 12 vs. Southern Miss
||1 , four times
||24 at Arkansas
|| 7 vs. Ark./MSU/at Fla.
||5 at Marquette
||3 vs. Alabama
|| 1 vs. Nicholls State
||1 vs. Alabama/JSU
||17 at Central Fla.
|| 13 at Alabama
||*6 vs. Jacksonville St.
||4 at Vanderbilt
|| 2 vs. #7 Kentucky
||19 vs. So. Miss
|| 11 vs. Alabama
||*5 vs. OM/USM/FAMU
||21 vs. So. Miss
|| 6 at Mississippi State
||5 vs. Jacksonville St.
||7 at Marquette
|| 3 vs. Alabama
||1 vs. Ark./LSU/Ala.
||21 vs. So. Miss
|| 9 vs. LSU
||8 vs. Nicholls State
||26 vs. Wofford
|| 13 vs. FAMU/Wofford
||8 at Tennessee
||3 vs. Navy
|| 4 vs. Jacksonville St.
||1 vs. Jacksonville St.
||16 at Arkansas
|| 8 vs. Nicholls St./So. Miss
||3 vs. Georgia