Can Auburn Basketball Finish Strong?
Sitting at 14-13 (4-9 SEC), head coach Tony Barbee's team has three more regular-season games before heading into the SEC Tournament.
After upsetting Mississippi State at home Saturday, Auburn matched its conference win total from last season.
While the hopes of a trip to a postseason tournament are gone, the Tigers have still played with heart the past few weeks.
With two more home games and an in-state road trip, how many more wins will Auburn be able to get this season?
Feb. 25th: Arkansas
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Auburn nearly pulled off the upset at Arkansas on Jan. 25th, ultimately falling by three.
Arkansas brings a physical game that no one else in the SEC provides. The Tigers have been bullied once this year, but how will they handle it at home?
The leading scorer in the first meeting, forward Kenny Gabriel (who scored 13), has been listed as questionable after a back injury Tuesday against Florida.
Guard Chris Denson, who scored 10 at Arkansas, was also injured against Florida.
If Auburn plays without these two players, the Tigers are already in a hole.
Guard Frankie Sullivan will have to carry Auburn to victory on the offensive side of the ball.
Center Rob Chubb did not score against Florida after scoring only four against Mississippi State. Auburn needs a spark that center Adrian Forbes provided against Florida when he scored a team-high 11 points.
Some optimism for Tigers fans is Auburn rarely loses at home.
With the Tigers' 13-2 home record, with its only loses coming to No. 1 Kentucky and Alabama, Auburn Arena is a hard place for an away team to come into and leave victorious.
Feb. 29: @ Alabama
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Auburn was nothing short of embarrassed by its arch-rival when they played Alabama at home earlier this season, falling 68-50.
To add insult to injury, three Alabama players, Retin Obasohan, Trevor Releford and Ben Eblen, taunted the Auburn crowd post game via Twitter.
Obasohan's tweet read: "S/o (Shoutout) to the 35 auburn fans that stayed till the end of the game! #ROLLTIDE"
Although three Crimson Tide players were suspended shortly after the first meeting between these teams, only Tony Mitchell remains suspended throughout the rest of the season.
On a positive note, Auburn tends to play Alabama better in Tuscaloosa.
However, the Tigers have lost the last five games against the Crimson Tide.
Guard Frankie Sullivan scored a game-high 21 points in January, and for the Tigers to be successful on the road, he'll have to do the same again.
The Tigers have not recorded a road win in conference play so far and only have one to its credit on the season, which came against Hawaii.
This game will be Auburn's last chance to get in the win column for a conference-road game.
March 3rd: LSU
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The first game between Auburn and LSU came early in SEC play and played a big role in the Tigers' record.
After falling to LSU in overtime, Auburn dropped to 1-3 instead of 2-2. With the win against South Carolina in its next game, Auburn could have been 3-2.
Guard Frankie Sullivan led the Tigers with a game-high 19 points, which included hitting five three-pointers. Center Rob Chubb added 15 points of his own.
While Sullivan could score 15-plus on any given night, it doesn't appear Chubb will follow up his performance with another big game.
However, if Auburn is going to win another conference game, this is the matchup it will most likely be.
In the first meeting, the Tigers simply got tired in overtime and only scored one basket, falling 65-58.
With the atmosphere created at Auburn Arena, look for Auburn to pick up a win in this one.
By this point, Gabriel should be healthy and back to normal. He could make the difference between a close game and a comfortable win.
March 8th: SEC Tournament
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Auburn has not been successful in the SEC Tournament the past several years, to put it simply.
Last year included a one-and-done trip to Atlanta, and the year before provided the same result in Nashville.
However, this year may be different.
If the season ended today, Auburn would face Vanderbilt in the first round. In case anyone forgot, the Commodores beat the Tigers 65-35 earlier this season in Nashville.
That's why winning at least two of the last three games is important for Auburn.
Ole Miss and Arkansas sit just ahead of Auburn with five SEC wins each, both easy enough to catch.
A best-case scenario would match Auburn up with LSU, who is currently tied for fourth. A worst-case scenario would have Auburn facing any of the top three teams: No. 1 Kentucky, No. 11 Florida or Vanderbilt.
Only time will tell who Auburn is paired up with.