Hello, and welcome to the very special tournament edition of #SECBasketballFever! We started things off in Nashville last night with two games featuring teams that are in a win or season over situation. No NCAA or NIT bids in the offing for the SEC's bottom four. Win, and keep that tiny, flickering hope of an autobid alive. Lose, and it's offseason time. Let's check in on how things went in Bridgestone Arena.
#13 Auburn (74) - #12 Mississippi State (68)
By the standards of a SEC Tournament Wednesday, this was actually a pretty good game. A close battle in the first half turned into a double-digit Tiger lead, which soon evaporated. However, Auburn was able to pull away again and take the game, winning the right to take on a desperate Texas A&M today. K.C. Ross-Miller led the way for AU with 21 points and 7 boards, while Craig Sword paced the Dogs, also scoring 21.
The Tigers outrebounded State 34-27. This was the best rebounding effort I've seen from the Tigers all year. No Tiger had more than seven rebounds but Auburn's guards were following shots and picking up rebounds they haven't gotten much this year. Auburn's press was also effective forcing State to call timeout on a couple of inbound plays.
This was one of Auburn's best games of the season. We could have folded but didn't.
For Whom the Cowbell Tolls had no comment. By recent standards, this season was a marked improvement for MSU basketball, but is it enough to save Rick Ray's job?
#11 South Carolina (63) - #14 Missouri (54)
It's kind of appropriate that Mizzou's season ended this way, with yet another winnable game slipping away due in large part to a lengthy scoring drought. Kim Anderson and his team have a lot of work to do this summer. Meanwhile, South Carolina didn't play great, but survived to extend their season at least one more game (vs. Ole Miss tonight).
I don't have any lasting words to share here. We'll talk about plenty of "Fixing Mizzou" things in the coming weeks. But this game played out like a Mad Libs version of most of the season's losses: "[Player A] played well, and [Player B] wasn't bad, but that was about it. Mizzou didn't get to the line enough, and while the Tigers actually did pretty well at [Category C], [Category D] and [Category E] were nightmares, and in the end, there just wasn't enough offense to get the job done."
"At this time of the year, all you want to do is score one more point than your opponent and live to fight another day," Martin said. His words said he was clearly upset with some portions of tonight's game but his mood seemed relieved that his team lived to fight another day, advancing to the next round of the SEC Tournament.
The tournament continues today (with some teams that will be playing in a non-SEC tournament!) #8 Florida vs. #9 Alabama and #5 Texas A&M vs #13 Auburn make up the day session, with #7 Vanderbilt vs. #10 Tennessee and #6 Ole Miss vs. #11 South Carolina for a nightcap.