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WBB Game 19: Missouri Tigers at Vanderbilt Commodores

A Tale of Two Upsets

Auburn mascot pointing at the camera in front of a March Madness crowd
Now he wants to upset YOU!
Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

12-5 (1-3)
AP: ORV
Coaches: NR
NET: 68
            

January 18, 2024

2:00 PM CT at Memorial Gymnasium

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16-2 (3-1)
AP: ORV
Coaches: ORV
NET: 47
            

Well, we lost. Around the AP Top 25 since Sunday morning, UCLA (2) lost to USC (9), Stanford (8) lost to Colorado (5), and FSU (21) lost to Virginia Tech (11), and, of course, LSU (7) lost in a high-energy contest against Auburn (UR). And now Auburn is coming to town to see if they can keep their streak going. I’ll get more into that later, but for now know that we are still receiving votes in both polls and are an eight seed on ESPN’s bracketology. As disappointing as the loss was, especially given I think we were the better team before we let up in the third and never tuned back in, it by no means has the loss derailed the great season we’ve been having. Yet. Tonight could play a big part in determining that.

I watched the Auburn-LSU game from about the middle of the first quarter on, and it was the defense that kept this one close. LSU looked like they came to play, and looking at the box score, aside from missing a few too many free throws, LSU was in no way suffering in any category or another. Oh wait, they went 0-2 from three. Yep, they only attempted 2 three-pointers and missed both. As a matter of fact, all but 4 of LSU’s 62 points came from the paint or from the line, and if you watched the game you know it was ugly in the paint: every rebound was like that scene from Finding Nemo where the seagulls are all screaming “MINE MINE MINE” as the ball bounced from hand to hand. Often enough, the orange-and-blue tigers came down with the ball to make it competitive against the larger, better-rebounding purple-and-gold tigers. Auburn played hard (and got a little lucky) against a more talented team thanks to a defense that eliminated the three and forced contested shots inside the arc. Auburn did that while still finding opportunities to take and make shots for themselves all over the floor. They essentially forced a smaller game out of LSU, and LSU couldn’t outplay them once that happened. As a team that loves the three-pointer, at least relative to LSU, I expect a different defense from Auburn. We move the ball really well around the arc, so hopefully we can find more opportunities. However, Auburn leads the SEC in limiting three-point attempts. This game may come down to beating Auburn’s three-point defense or, if we can’t do that, getting the ball to Sacha Washington or someone else in the paint and hoping they can muscle us to a win.

(Note from Tom: I saw that Cole had put “Missouri” in the headline and I am leaving it.)