The Men's Basketball team ends a 34 year SEC Champion drought
The 2018 Auburn’s Men’s Basketball team upset the SEC Tournament, defeating then third ranked by a demonstrative twenty points for the SEC Champion title. This was the first time the Tigers have taken home the trophy since 1985, when a team relying on three freshmen and the legendary Chuck Person took home the title after losing Charles Barkley and several other seniors. Unlike the ’85 roster, this year saw seniors lead Auburn to victory.
Bryce Brown, a senior guard, was named MVP of the SEC Tournament and put up an impressive sixty-six points throughout the tournament. He follows in the footsteps of Person, who was named tournament MVP in 1985. Fellow seniors Malik Dunbar and Horace Spencer also made an impact on the Tiger’s offensive and defensive strategy, capitalizing on crucial shot opportunities and creating defensive turnovers. Jared Harper, junior guard, scored sixty-one points during the tournament, despite sitting out nearly the entire first half of the championship game.
When looking back on the 1985 season, this year saw redemption for several games. Auburn beat Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee twice this year, a feat that Auburn has not accomplished in its entire 114 years as a program. While Auburn did secure a victory against Florida both times the teams played in the 1985 season, Auburn lost to Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee thirty-four years ago. Sonny Smith, coach of the 1985 team, led the Tigers to a 16-11 season. The team took advantage of their SEC Tournament win and won two games in the NCAA Tournament against Purdue and Kansas, finishing in the top sixteen.
Students coming back to Auburn from spring break celebrated the team’s tournament sweep Sunday night with a welcoming party on Toomer’s Corner. Fans swarmed the intersection to high five and applaud the coaches and players, who came back to the Plains decked out in champion gear with pieces of the net tied around their hats.
As a number 5 seed in the Midwest region of the NCAA Tournament, Auburn is ready to go up against New Mexico State in the first round. Auburn will be watching this Thursday to see if Bruce Pearl’s experienced team can continue their success in March Madness.