Auburn Arena opened in 2010.
Ask anyone about Auburn basketball and you’ll get the same answer: “Why the hell are you asking me about Auburn basketball?” It’s natural. No one wants to talk about Auburn basketball.
But we’ll make an exception today since Kentucky will play its first road game in over a month against the 10-5 Tigers tonight at 8:00pm.
The SEC Network has the coverage. Dave Neal has the call. I have the scouting report.
Auburn has a basketball team.
There’s a start.
Auburn isn’t very good at basketball.
Make no mistake about it.
Auburn head coach Tony Barbee knows Calipari very well.
Auburn head coach Tony Barbee played four seasons at UMass for Calipari from 1989-1993, where he was a two-time Atlantic-10 second team selection and helped lead UMass to the A-10 Tournament Championships in 1992 and 1993. Barbee rejoined the Minutemen in 1996 as a graduate assistant on the Final Four team with Marcus Camby that posted a 35-2 record. When Coach Cal took the Memphis job, he brought Barbee along with him as an assistant where Barbee coached for six years before taking the head coaching job at UTEP in 2006.
Yesterday, Calipari credited Barbee for helping him build two programs. “I’m playing against someone I care about,” he said. “I’m standing here in front of you all as the coach at Kentucky and a lot of that is because of Tony Barbee.”
Auburn assistant Milt Wagner knows Calipari very well. And played for Louisville.
Wagner averaged 15.7 points in four games against Kentucky from 1983-1986 and, along with UK assistant Kenny Payne, led Louisville to the ’86 National Championship. He’s also a former Calipari assistant — well, “Coordinator of Basketball Operations” — and the father of DaJuan Wagner, Cal’s first one-and-done at Memphis in 2001. Milt was hired to the Memphis staff to assure the signing of his son, the National Prep Player of the Year that season.
Despite his three Final Four berths, NCAA Championship, NBA career, and ties to John Calipari, Milt Wagner’s greatest accomplishment is an interview he recorded yesterday with KSTV. It’ll air tonight at 7:30 and 11:00 or anytime On Demand Channel 103.
Auburn Executive Director of Basketball Steve Smith knows Calipari very well.
Calipari was the best man in Smith’s wedding. Their relationship goes back to the UMass days when Smith was Cal’s personal assistant.
Auburn Director of Operations Mike Babul knows Calipari very well.
Babul signed to play for Coach Cal at UMass in the fall of 1995 but missed out on Calipari when he jumped to the NBA to coach the Nets. The two were reunited in Memphis when Babul was hired as an administrative assistant for the 2003-2004 season. The following year, Babul was a full-time assistant for John Robic at Youngstown State.
Auburn is on a 10-game home winning streak.
It’s the longest streak in the two-year history of Auburn Arena. The wins came over Ole Miss, McNeese State, Kennesaw State, Nicholls State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, South Florida, North Florida, Florida A&M, Georgia Southern, and Bethune-Cookman.
That streak ends tonight.
Charles Barkley and the Persons aren’t walking through that door.
Since sending the NBA’s two favorite Chucks and Wesley Person to the league, there has been a shortage of professional basketball players to come out of Auburn. Only mediocre names like Jamison Brewer, Pat Burke, and Marquis Daniels have lasted more than a couple of seasons.
Senior Kenny Gabriel had 10 blocks in a game earlier this season.
On January 2, Gabriel recorded the first triple-double in school history with 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 blocks against Bethune-Cookman.
He is ranked second in the SEC with 2.7 blocks per game.
Auburn center Rob Chubb likes to score 21 points.
Rob Chubb — not to be confused with ‘rub chub’, which is what some fans do when they think about this UK team hanging #8 — is Auburn’s 6-foot-10 starting center and he’s hit a career-high 21 points three separate times this season.