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It's all about Auburn for Katie Frerking in NCAA tourney
March 19, 2016

Katie Frerking will be all Auburn all the time against Baylor on Sunday
Katie Frerking will be all Auburn all the time against Baylor on Sunday

By Charles Goldberg

WACO, Texas — Katie Frerking once cheered for Baylor and it was OK. Her brother was a quarterback on the roster, a holder on the football field and was the reason to root for the Bears.

She won't be rooting for Baylor on Sunday.

The Auburn basketball starter will meet Baylor in an NCAA Tournament game at 6 p.m. in Ferrell Center, the home court for the Bears, in a game that will be televised by ESPN2 and will send the winner to the Sweet 16.

"I loved Baylor when he was here, but being here playing against them, it's obviously not that same feeling," Frerking said. "It's cool to be back, but I'm definitely here with a different goal and a different mindset."

The goal Sunday is for No. 9-seed Auburn to play its patented tough defense in order to beat Bears, the No. 1 seed in the Dallas Region. Auburn is 20-12 after beating St. John's 68-57 Friday night. Baylor is 34-1 after pounding Idaho 89-59 in its first-round game.

Frerking said there won't be any issues Sunday from Andrew, her brother.

"He's a huge Auburn fan, too. He loves Auburn," she said. "He's all Tigers… for the time being."

Andrew Frerking tweeted this before Friday's game: 

The Frerkings have more than an athletic bond. Katie has been recognized by the Southeastern Conference for her academic success. Andrew was a Big 12 All-Academic selection in football.

The Auburn-Baylor familiarity doesn't stop there. Auburn's Tra'Cee Tanner was a high school teammate of Baylor's Chardonae Fuqua in Hoover.

Baylor hasn't lost to an unranked team in Ferrell Center that's 165 games — since Auburn beat the Bears for the WNIT championship in 2003. Much has changed since then. But one thing hasn't changed this season for Auburn.

The Tigers began the year playing defense, and continued doing it in their NCAA opener against St. John's.

"When we get a box score, the first thing we look at is how many turnovers we forced, how many steals did we have? The first thing that they want to ask, how many steals did we get?"

The answer to that question was 13 Friday night. St. John's also had 25 turnovers, helping Auburn to a 19-point first-half lead.

"We have a goal sheet up in the locker room, and we have about 10 goals that we want to get on the defensive end. And about five of those comes from out of our press," said Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy.

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey appreciates that effort.

"Auburn, and I have to love this as a coach, is defensive-minded. They want to make the game ugly."

Auburn received an offense boost Friday when Janiah McKay scored a career-high 24 points, Jazmine Jones scored 13 on 6-of-7 shooting and Eric Sanders matched her career high with eight points. Usually, it's Frerking, Tanner and Brandy Montgomery with the big points.

"When we have production from everybody it makes it a lot easier for our team, especially when we can get bench points," Tanner said.
"One of the things that has been good all year," Frerking said, "is getting production from our whole team and knowing that our wins are going to be from a team effort. We're not a team full of superstars. We're a team.

"So when we can get numbers like that from a freshman point guard and from Jazz, she plays so hard every single night, so to see her hard work throughout the year to be paying off for her late in the season like it is, that's really big for us. If they can both continue to play like that, we're going to be really good."

Auburn will either punch its ticket to the Sweet 16 or conclude its NCAA Tournament season Sunday night. So what will it be?

"It's called March Madness for a reason," Williams-Flournoy said. "You really just don't know what's going to happen."

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



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