I find it easy to find something to pick on with most teams. Tennessee has the headbands, Vandy the slide rules, Florida the Tyus hair and Louisville the Porcinis. But what is there to care about when it comes to Auburn basketball? Is there any defining characteristic that reminds you of Auburn, one way or the other? The reality is that Kentucky has owned Auburn like no other team in the SEC in modern times. The Cats are 24-1 against Auburn since 1991, with their only loss in 2000 while Auburn was ranked #4. Think about that…since Pitino was here and not on probation, Kentucky has beaten Auburn like a drum every year and only lost once. Heck, even Billy Clyde was 2-0 against the Tigers.
So what is there to dislike about Auburn basketball? Anything? I admit that I dont know one player on the Auburn team and have nothing except their lineup of bad losses (Central Florida, Missouri State and Troy) and the fact that they got WAXED by 22 by Sam Houston State…the team the Cats played earlier this year. I know their coach (Jeff Lebo) has no hair and their arena (the aptly named “Who Cares Hall”) is always empty except when Kentucky comes to town. Thus I struggle to find anything relevant to talk about when it comes to the Tigers. But I am here to try. So after some thought, the eleven things that come to mind with Auburn basketball:
1. Charles Barkley — You have to go back to the mid 80s and the Round Mound of Rebound played there. The Cats beat him in the SEC Tournament finals and he cried on the court. To Cat fans a bit older than me, it was a big moment.
2. Chris Porter — The best player in my generation at Auburn. He was a JUCO transfer and could flat fly…led a team that was supposed to be special…it wasnt.
3. Cliff Ellis — Seemed to coach at Auburn forever. Played jazz music in his spare time even though he looked like a science librarian.
4. Veterinarian Students — Back in the day, Kentucky always seemed to play at Auburn on the old JP Sports Network. Joe Dean would call the games and they would make a big deal about the fact that there were a lot of UK fans there because they were Vet students at the Auburn school. I always wondered how there could be that many Vet students from Kentucky. I still dont know.
5. Sonny Smith — Coach of Auburn in the 1980s and very funny. My first year covering the SEC Tournament, he came up to me and introduced himself and said, “do you work for CBS?” and I of course said no. He then handed me a cup of liquid and said, “Good, have some Dr. Pepper.” Oddest and best conversation ever.
6. Dameon Fishback — He played at Auburn in the mid 90s and was from Kentucky…always had big games against the Cats, prompting people to ask, “why didnt UK recruit him?” The answer was because our guys were much better. He now calls games with Buzz Baker.
7. White guys with floppy hair — They always have one and he makes five threes against us. Wait and see…it is guaranteed.
8. Person Brothers — Chuck and Wesley. They both were very good and Wesley could shoot like no other. Scott Padgett said Darnell Dodson could be a “Wesley Person-like player” and meant it as a compliment. I told him he was getting old.
9. Bert and Blake — Not really basketball related but two of my best friends from Middlesboro were brothers and they both went to school at Auburn. I never understood why. Then I got Facebook and saw the various girls they dated. I now know why.
10. Auburn Elvis — (pictured below) Every year at the SEC Tournament, we see this guy dressed like Elvis who supports Auburn. He always comes up and talks to us and I look forward to it every year. Because he only comes to Auburn games, he is only there one day. But it is a great day.
11. Mamadou Ndiyae — Truth be told, I remember almost nothing about his play. But he did inspire the my favorite Sportscenter nickname…..”Aint Nobody Love him Like His” Mamadou Ndiyae.
Maybe we will add to the list this year. I doubt it…
So Matt Jones, Barry Booker and Auburn Elvis walk into a bar…