“the feeling of being upset or annoyed, esp. because of inability to change or achieve something.”
Case in point: the Auburn Tiger basketball team.
Here’s the tale of the tape. Auburn is 0-3 in the SEC and have lost 13 consecutive and 19 of 20 conference games.
Today the hapless and luckless Tigers get #7 Florida to whom they’ve lost five in a row and 15 of the last 16.
Hey at least they get them at home right? Well they’ve lost seven in a row at home against Florida.
For a team that can’t catch a break, they likely don’t even have a prayer against Florida. The Gators come in at 13-2 overall and 3-0 in the SEC and have been playing very well particularly on defense. And they get leading scorer Casey Prather back. It’s unclear how effective he’ll be as he returns from a bruised knee that has kept him out of the last two games.
“(Prather was) cleared yesterday for non contact,” Donovan said. “(he was) cleared to do some contact today, but I really don’t have a real good feel yet how much we can get out of him because he hasn’t done any contact. So he’ll be available for the game but how much he’ll play is really, really hard to say.”
In his place, Dorian Finney-Smith, who is in his first season with the Gators after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, has really showed out. Against Arkansas, he had the second double-double of the season dropping 22 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in a two point overtime victory. Against Georgia he scored 14 points with 5 rebounds. Prather is the number 9 ranked scorer in the SEC at 17.0 points per game and leads a group of five Gator players averaging in double figures.
Senior center Patric Young has been dominant in the paint and Michael Frazier, the leading three point scorer in the SEC, has been a sharp-shooter from outside averaging an unheard of 47 percent from beyond the three point arc. Senior Scottie Wilbekin has been effective and efficient manning the point which has allowed head coach Billy Donovan to ease freshman point guard sensation Kasey Hill into action.
And for the icing on the cake, senior small forward Will Yeguete is finally starting to play like his old self as he recovers from a knee injury which he played through last season but required end of the season surgery to fix. All of this points to an easy test for the Gators and continuation of the frustration for the overmatched Tigers.
The Tigers are a guard oriented team with leading scorers K.T. Harrel (19.0 ppg) and Chris Denson (19.4 ppg). no one else on the team averages over 9 points per game. Tiger head coach Tony Barbee remains optimistic despite the long record of futility and frustration for the team.
“My team’s mindset is great,” Barbee said. “These guys have been competitive, they have been competing, they have been pushing each other, they have been working hard in practice, we have been fighting in the games.”
Despite their 0-3 record in conference, the coach’s optimism is well founded as they actually played well against a difficult early season schedule. Billy Donovan has taken notice and has made sure his team is aware of the Tigers potential as well despite their won-loss record.
“Auburn clearly is much, much better this year than they were last year,” Donovan said. “I think our guys understand the non-conference schedule they’ve played, against Illinois, against Clemson, against Boston College, they’ve been tested. And certainly their SEC schedule the first three games started off difficult. They had to go to Ole Miss, they’ve played Missouri at home, and they had to go to Tennessee. So they’ve had some tough games and they’ve been right there and they’ve played really well.”
However, that tough early season schedule amps up considerably against the Gators and all the optimism and confidence in the world will not bring them down today. If the Tigers have a shot, they have to shoot at a high rate, crash the boards, play tight defense, and force the Gators into turnovers. Additionally, they need to score early and often. The Gators have been getting out to quick leads playing solid, stifling defense, typical of a Donovan coached team. They defend teams late into the shot clock forcing bad shots keeping the opponent from settling in for rebounds. They then push the ball up the court and get a lot of quick easy points on the fast break.
In the half court, they’ve been adept at driving the lane forcing teams to double down or rotate on the driver allowing the Gators to dish to the big men underneath the basket or kick it out for Michael Frazier or Casey Prather to drain a three point basket.
Today looks like an easy early conference test for the Gators but the reality is Auburn is due for a conference win and a win in general and there are no easy road venues in the SEC. The Gators must stick to the formula that has got them to 3-0 in conference play: strong post play, efficient offense hitting shots at a high rate, protecting the basketball not allowing Auburn to force them into late shot clock shots and/or turnovers while moving the ball around on offense, making the extra pass, getting shooters the ball in rhythym.
Tipoff for today’s game from Auburn is 4 pm eastern time and will be broadcast on the SEC network. Check your local listings for when and where we are you can catch the game.
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