We had a 10 point lead at one point in the first half. Of course, we got that lead by making 3's, and au was cold. There was only one way we could lose to that bunch, and that is get in a 3 point shooting contest with them, and that is exactly what we did. Inexplicably, we went to a zone in the first half and allowed them to get back into the game. When we played man, we were consistently beat off the dribble or caught out of position. That was one of the worst defensive efforts I have ever seen. Yes, auburn made some tough shots, but over half of their 3 pointers were good, open looks, with several wide open, uncontested shots being given up as well.
We had the only legitimate post player in the game. If we get the ball to Hendrix in the post, a simple lob pass would do the trick, he should be able to go straight up and over the auburn defense every time. Instead, we took 29 shots from behind the arc. To put that in perspective, auburn, who had to rely on the 3 just to stay in the game, took 30.
Auburn only has 7 players, and they were in foul trouble most of the game at that, yet we made little or no effort to go inside. When coaching against a thin team that relies on the perimeter shot, most coaches would want to make them run. They may make the shots early, but in theory their legs will give out and their shot will suffer down the stretch. Apparently our coaches do not believe in that theory, as we didn't press until we were down 15 with 2 minutes to go.
We have been competive in most of our losses, but this game was an embarassment. auburn sucks, and they blew us out of the gym. They out hustled us for loose balls and they had over 20 points off of our turnovers.
We missed a lot of easy layups and open shots. Hendrix was not particularly effective even when he did get the ball. Still, I would take my chances with Hendrix missing layups and at least wearing them down and picking up some fouls rather than keep jacking shots from the perimeter that we were making at a less than 25% clip.
Torrance didn't even see the court. Rico resurfaced after being buried on the bench for the past few games. We finally got Jemison out of the starting lineup in favor of Hillman, and Knox got some playing time, so that was good. Yet, Coleman never came off the bench. Justin Tubbs finally got back in a game and actually made a 3, so maybe his shot is starting to come back. Still, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to our substiution patterns. The biggest problem is we seem content to adjust and try to play our opponent's style of game rather than forcing them to adapt to us.
Free throw shooting sucked once again, but at least Hendrix was 4 of 5.
With that loss, we are now assured of a losing SEC regular season record. The rest of the regular season is pretty meaningless at this point, except for seding in the SEC tournament. Our only hope at the NCAA tournament is to win the SEC tournament.
Up next, the Arkansas Razorbakcs bring a talented, experienced team to Tuscaloosa Wednesday night. They got off to a slow start, but are playing much better now. Frankly, every team left on our schedule, including LSU, is playing better basketball than us right now.