By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
SEC Tournament Recap
For only the second time in school history, Auburn won the SEC Tournament championship.
Bruce Pearl’s team captured the title with a resounding 84-64 victory over Tennessee, and it was the Tigers’ second win over the Vols in eight days.
Senior guard Bryce Brown was named Tournament MVP and Jared Harper and Chuma Okeke joined him on the all-tournament team.
The Tigers won four games in four days to win the championship. After defeating Missouri in the first round, Auburn knocked off South Carolina and Florida to reach the title game.
Tennessee won a hard-fought game over Kentucky in the semifinals and looked emotionally drained in the title game against Auburn. The Tigers hit 15 3-pointer baskets. Brown and Okeke hit five treys each and were electric throughout the game. Harper picked up two quick fouls early on and missed almost the entire first half.
Auburn improved to 26-9 overall. It was the second straight season that Auburn won an SEC title. Last year, the Tigers won the regular season crown.
NCAA Tournament Preview
Seven teams from the SEC made the NCAA Tournament, including Auburn, Kentucky, LSU, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Florida. Kentucky and Tennessee earned No. 2 seeds, while regular season champion LSU was awarded a three-seed.
Auburn and Mississippi State were named five-seeds, and Ole Miss was given an eight-seed. Florida snuck in the tournament as a No. 10 seed.
In Auburn’s opening round game, the Tigers took on No. 12 seed New Mexico State. The Aggies entered the game with 30 wins and they had not lost since Jan. 3. Auburn controlled most of the game but the A&M battled back late to put a scare in the Tigers.
Auburn had a two-point lead late when Brown fouled Terrell Brown on a 3-pointer. Brown missed two of the three shots, however, and Auburn held on for a 78-77 win to advance to the Round of 32 for the second straight year. It certainly wasn’t pretty, but all wins are good ones at this point in the season.
Harper led Auburn with 17 points, though he fouled out late. Backup point guard J’Von McCormick scored a career-high 16 points off the bench. Okeke scored 13, while Brown chipped in 12. The Tigers are searching for their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2003.
LSU took on Yale in the No. 3/No. 14 matchup, and the Tigers held on for a 79-74 victory.
Head coach Will Wade is indefinitely suspended, but LSU was able to hold on to advance to the second round.
Tennessee meets Colgate in the first round, while Kentucky will face Abilene Christian. Mississippi State takes on Liberty, and Ole Miss faces Oklahoma. Finally, Florida plays Nevada in a No. 7/No. 10 game.
Alabama just missed out on the NCAA Tournament and were awarded a No. 1 seed in the NIT. The Crimson Tide met Norfolk State in the first round and fell in overtime, 80-79. The loss dropped UA to 18-16 overall and put Avery Johnson’s job in jeopardy entering the offseason.