I’m running out of superlatives for this group.
We entered this game as 13-point underdogs, it was Auburn’s Senior Night, and it was a game where they had a chance to clinch their first undefeated season at home in 40 years. The on-court difference was stark, the narratives appeared stacked against us, and it would have been perfectly explainable if this one turned into a rout for Auburn.
But we’re just not built that way.
This result is even more incredible when you consider how poorly we started. The Tigers were white-hot from the field, we couldn’t buy a bucket, Buzz was forced to call an early timeout down 12-1, and Auburn Arena was about as loud as any environment I’ve seen us visit this season.
Auburn does this at home, for what it’s worth. They bury you early, they keep their foot on the gas, and you find yourself down 20 at the second media timeout. In that context, we submitted a critical stretch of defensive possessions to keep the game in range. Our offense was still slow to come around, but we stopped the bleeding.
And then we toasted ‘em with a 23-9 performance over the last twelve minutes, and the message we delivered was clear: You had your chance for a knockout, you didn’t finish the job, and now you’ve got a game on your hands.
Halftime Score: Texas A&M 33, Auburn 26
We... didn’t exactly learn our lesson from the first half, because we started poorly and immediately allowed Auburn back into this game.
What followed, frankly, was the most interesting fifteen minutes of basketball we’ve played this season. It was compelling, it was played at a high level, it stayed within a couple of possessions in either direction, and it was even was rife with ridiculous college refereeing decisions that probably had both fans throwing remotes at the television. Just for fun.
Josh Nebo carried us during this stretch on both ends, and our defense managed to keep the Tigers at bay as we approached the final two minutes. We showed incredible poise to deal with Auburn’s full court pressure late, and then our friend Chuck closed the show.
It’s worth noting that our free throw shooting made this interesting down the stretch, as we allowed Auburn to sneak within three and attempt a game-tying shot at the buzzer... but we survived.
Final Score: Texas A&M 78, Auburn 75
- Nebo was in foul trouble for most of the evening, but he still had 19 points in limited action. 17 of his 19 came in the second half, and he was really efficient. I already miss Nebo, and he’s not even gone yet.
- Mitchell had his most well-rounded game of the season. Sure, he had the dagger three and a handful of late free throws... but he also had seven rebounds and four assists. Chuck was great today, and it’s no accident that our Seniors led the way in our most difficult road test of the season.
- Jay Jay Chandler kept us in the game early. He hit a couple of threes to keep things from getting out of hand, and I was a big fan of the extended time he got tonight.
- Welcome back, Andre Gordon! The freshman was 3-4 from beyond the arc, and he submitted his best overall game in a month. His timing was impeccable.
- Jonathan Aku gave us some big minutes in the second half. Four rebounds, three assists, a steal, and a crucial bucket down low after Nebo went to the bench with four fouls.
- The teams combined for 94 points in the second half, which is an insanely high number for us this season. If you get a chance, watch a replay of this second half. It’s good basketball.
- We have never lost in Auburn Arena, and this was the second time we’ve spoiled an undefeated home campaign in this building. The “road team dominance” between these two schools extends beyond the football field.
I love these guys.
We’ve got Arkansas coming to town for Senior Day this Saturday, and it’s a chance to finish above .500 in SEC play. Truly incredible to even consider.
If you’re free this Saturday, make your way to Reed Arena to say farewell to Josh Nebo, Chuck Mitchell, and Mark French.