GAME NOTES: The 14th-seeded Auburn Tigers and the 11th-seeded Texas A&M Aggies
face off on Wednesday night in first-round action of the 2013 SEC Tournament
at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
The winner will advance to the second round on Thursday to tangle with sixth-
Auburn's season appeared to get off on the right foot, as it sat with a
respectable 8-7 record in mid-January, but it took a nose-dive in the
conference standings over the last two months with losses in 15 of its final
16 games. The Tigers wrapped up the regular season with a 74-71 overtime loss
at Mississippi State to finish up alone in last place in the SEC at 3-15.
In its first season as a member of the SEC coming over from the Big 12, Texas
A&M did a solid job treading water for most of the campaign, but it faltered
down the stretch by losing four of its last five games, including a 73-62
defeat in its March 9 finale at Arkansas. The Aggies performed much better
overall (17-14) than they did in the conference (7-11).
Texas A&M defeated the Tigers in the only meeting between the teams this
season, 65-56, in Auburn on Feb. 20, to extend its lead in the all-time series
The Tigers held a three-point lead in the final minute of regulation against
Mississippi State the last time out before allowing a game-tying 3-pointer
with 18 seconds left, and they were outpointed in the extra session en route
to the tough loss. It was a modest shooting night for Auburn (.412), but it
struggled mightily from 3-point range (3-of-17). Chris Denson was huge off the
bench, shooting 9-of-18 from the field for 24 points while adding nine
rebounds. Rob Chubb netted 18 points, and Frankie Sullivan chipped in 12
points (albeit on just 4-of-14 from the floor). Not surprisingly, it hasn't
been a pretty season at either end of the court for Auburn, which ranks in the
lower-half of the league in both scoring offense (64.9 ppg) and scoring
defense (68.7 ppg). Sullivan is the top producer with 14.4 ppg, but that is
mostly due to his high volume of shots, as he boasts a lackluster .367 field
goal percentage. Denson has been impressive in a reserve role with 11.7 ppg,
and Chubb brings a steady presence to the paint with 9.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg and 1.1
The Aggies went into one of the most difficult buildings in the nation to play
and shot an impressive 51.2 percent from the field, but they still came away
with an 11-point loss by getting into foul trouble (Arkansas shot 28-of-36
from the free-throw line) and by committing an uncharacteristic 23 turnovers.
Fabyon Harris netted 16 points in the defeat, Jordan Green added 14 points off
the bench, and Kourtney Roberson scored 13 points on a perfect 6-of-6 showing
from the field. Although Texas A&M outshoots its opponents from the field this
season, .447 to .414, it is only barely able to score enough points (63.9 ppg)
to support its strong defense (62.1 ppg). Elston Turner is in the midst of a
great season with 17.7 ppg, but he missed the finale with a hand injury. In
the event of his absence, Harris (11.9 ppg) will act as the go-to scoring
option. Ray Turner (9.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Roberson (6.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg) are a
solid duo in the paint.
Texas A&M has been on the downswing of late, but even if Elston Turner is
unable to suit up, it still has enough talent to topple a hapless Auburn
squad, which appears to have been checked out for weeks now.