In 2010, Auburn hired UTEP coach Tony Barbee as the head coach.
He had a winning record, but everything was set up for failure in his first season on the Plains. It became a harsh reality.
Auburn doesn't have a full roster, is devoid of true talent and the best players have been injured (i.e. Frankie Sullivan).
Before the season, you knew it would be bad. Auburn actually exceeded those expectations. They have been even worse.
Auburn plays for Barbee, but plays like Barbie.
No blame goes to Tony Barbee, because these are completely unfair conditions for a basketball coach. The players are trying too. They're working their rears off. They just aren't good. Everything than can go wrong, does.
Or so we thought.
On January 29th, 2011, the hapless Tigers defeated South Carolina in Columbia by a score of 79-64 to get Tony Barbee's first SEC win as a head coach.
It wasn't a fluke, either, as Auburn was better than the Gamecocks in nearly every way. Once they took the lead, they never looked back.
Auburn made their free throws. They didn't turn it over. They forced turnovers. They turned in a great defensive performance. They rebounded the ball.
It hardly resembled the team that trailed LSU 32-6 at halftime on January 8th. It didn't look like the team that lost to something called Presbyterian.
Rather, it resembled the team that beat Florida State, who turned around and beat No. 1 Duke.
Is it time to claim Auburn as the SEC's best? No.
Is it time to claim Auburn as the West's best? No.
But maybe they aren't as dead as we thought they were.
They have an 8-13 record, so they are still statistically the worst SEC team.
But what does this win mean for the future? Is it a sign? We don't know. But it's only a matter of time before Barbee gets real talent on the court.
If he can win an SEC game by 15 with this team, the sky might be the limit.
First, we must suffer through 2011. But this game proves it: Barbee can get the job done. He will.