Contrary to popular belief, Auburn does still place a basketball team on the floor. While the product is generally abysmal, it is a team that appears on your schedule at least once every year. In Kentucky’s case this year, Auburn appears two times. Both games will occur in the next three weeks.
Generally, you would chalk those games up to 20 point walk through victories. But as Kentucky fans we’ve learned 2 things this season:
1. You can win by more points if you score more points.
2. Nothing is going to be easy for this Kentucky team.
So before we roll into sold out Cam Newton Arena Saturday night, I ask you to lower your expectations a bit. Simply winning at home has been difficult for us, so to expect things to come easy on the road is to set yourself up for disappointment. Should we win this game? Absolutely yes. Do I expect it to be easy? Absolutely no.
The good news is that Charles Barkley, Chris Porter, Chuck Person, Mamadou N’Daiye, and Marquis Daniels are not walking through that door. You want to know who will? If the answer is yes, join me as we Know Your Enemy: Auburn Tigers.
I hate Auburn. Auburn the place. Not Auburn the university. My grandfather graduated from Auburn. I have friends that went there. The school is fine.
I hate the geographical place. Now, people who know me know I don’t hate a lot of things. If I hate something, I generally have a reason. When it comes to Auburn, I have a reason. A friend of mine and I almost died in Auburn. On a golf course. There’s a story. Walk with me, KSR readers.
The past few years I have done some part time caddying for one of my friends. Let’s call him Kent because, well, that’s his name. My duties as Kent’s part time caddy took us to Auburn, Alabama during the heat of summer in 2010. And when I say heat of summer, I mean the heat index was well over 105 degrees and there was not a breath of wind. The humidity was at a considerable level. It’s the type of weather where you can drink a bottle of water per hole and NEVER PEE. It was so hot they made the players wear shorts. It was so hot gay people were going into Chick Fil A for air conditioning. The last place people should have been in this weather was exactly where Kent and I were. Walking up and down hills on a golf course.
As we finished the first nine, I was already getting dizzy. In news that won’t shock you, I’m not the paragon of fitness. I can get out and run a few (up to 3) miles and be just fine, but I’m a blogger. This was taking it’s toll on me. By the 11th hole, I was taking a knee every time we stopped. I wasn’t getting yardages. I wasn’t reading putts. I was trying to maintain life. Kent was laughing at me. Kent also wasn’t carrying a 50 pound golf bag on his back up and down these hills. Kent had no idea what was coming for him. He was about to get his.
As we approached the 18th tee and I had fought off leg cramp after cramp, we were right on the cut line. We needed a par to make the cut. As Kent steps up to hit his tee shot on this hole guarded by trees to both sides, I’m hoping the ball goes anywhere but in the fairway. I’d prefer it deep in the trees for shading purposes, but as long as we make a 5 or higher I don’t care. I can’t imagine two more days of this. To my delight, Kent hits a rope hook into the left trees.
Before I finish this story there is something you need to know about Kent. Kent is a broad shouldered, athletic, hits it 315 off the tee type of country boy strong, but he is allergic to anything with a stinger like Macaulay Culkin in “My Girl.” He’s “carry an epipen in his car & golf bag” allergic.
After we locate Kent’s ball in the trees, I exit the trees so that I can watch for his ball to emerge as he punches out. I hear the contact, I see the ball exit the woods, and shortly behind the ball comes Kent on a dead sprint screaming like he just walked into Porcini’s after business hours. The next thing I know he has taken his shirt off and is running around in the fairway. Like any good caddy, I
ran over limped over to him and began smacking him with a towel. You see, when he hit his ball he disturbed a yellow jacket nest and now there were approximately 20 yellow jackets stinging him all over his body. After we removed all the yellow jackets from his body, Kent instructed me to RUN UP A 100 YARD HILL to his car because he didn’t have his epipen with him. Not wanting to drive back to Kentucky without him, I take off up the hill. I might have made it 20 yards before both of my legs locked up and I went to the ground. Thoughts of “we are going to die in Auburn” start going through my mind.
To shorten the end of an already long story, Kent didn’t die. I didn’t die either. I got to his epipen and we went to the hospital. Upon arrival they brought a wheelchair out and tried to put me in it. Due to my lack of health insurance at the time I politely declined and said I was just dehydrated. Kent was in risk of death.
In lieu of an IV, which would have been expensive, I accepted free ice chips. Kent and his fancy health insurance got an epinephrine shot and we narrowly avoided our brush with death in Auburn, Alabama.
I say all that to say I hate Auburn the place. Not the university. If you ever get the chance to visit Auburn in the summer, don’t.
Notable Alumni & Attendees:
Vincent “Bo” Jackson- It’d probably be easier to ask “Who didn’t have a Bo Knows shirt?” I had one. My brother had one. You had to have one to be my friend. That’s how society worked in the 3rd grade. If you had a Bo Knows shirt, knew your multiplication tables, and jumped out of swings, the world was your playground.
Bo played football and baseball at Auburn before moving on to play professional baseball and football for the Royals and Raiders, respectively. He suffered a fluke hip injury and was never the same. If you haven’t seen his ESPN 30 for 30 “You Don’t Know Bo”, you need to. His bow and arrow game is tight.
Josh Hopkins- If you’re a fan of this website or Matt’s radio show, you know this guy. Hopkins is the star of everyone’s favorite show on TBS and a KSR contributor. Hopkins is a Kentucky basketball fanatic. Pictured here with Kyle Wiltjer, Hopkins is admittedly a little over the top when it comes to following recruiting. He also stalked John Wall in a restaurant to get a picture. If that’s a problem for anyone here, I’d be surprised.
Hopkins attended Sayre before spending some time at on the plains at Auburn. Be sure to check out Cougartown on TBS (Tuesdays at 10 p.m.)
Charles Barkley- It’s hard to say what Sir Charles is most famous for. Is it his actual NBA playing career? His involvement with the NBA on TNT? Or is it for being the worst golfer to ever pick up a club? OR, could it be the quote he gave the police when getting a DUI in 2008? Use google, you can find it.
Charles played three years at Auburn before leaving for the NBA in 1984. He did not obtain a degree or an NBA title, but he has two gold medals and is a member of the Hall of Fame. He’s doing just fine.
Cheerleading Scouting Report:
Auburn’s cheerleaders look exactly like you’d expect Auburn’s cheerleaders to look. All of them are cute, and all of them are wearing Auburn cheerleading uniforms. Totally predictable.
In the past 10 years, Auburn has made 1 Sweet 16. You know who else has made 1 Sweet 16 in the past 10 years? Indiana.
The 2003 Sweet 16 was Auburn’s most recent tourney appearance. They have eight all time NCAA tourney appearances and they won the SEC regular season in 1999. There is LITERALLY nothing else to talk about.
Tony Barbee- Barbee played college basketball at UMASS under a guy named John Calipari and later coached under him at Memphis. Auburn is Barbee’s second head coaching stop. He was at UTEP from 2006-2010.
In his 3rd year at Auburn, Barbee is 34-44 thus far (11-24 in SEC). This season Auburn comes in 8-8 (2-1) with a win over Florida State and seem to be slowly turning things around. The best thing about Tony Barbee is probably the fact that he isn’t Jeff Lebo.
Frankie Sullivan- Averaging 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists, Sullivan is a senior guard from Uniontown, AL. He’s had 9 games this year in which he’s had over 20 points. He made 5 threes in Wednesday’s loss to Arkansas.
He is in no relation to the Frankie Sullivan who was a founding member of the band Survivor. It would’ve been fitting, however, considering their most famous song is “Eye of the Tiger.” Get it?
Chris Denson- The junior from Columbus, GA is averaging 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists. He has only played in 5 games this season due to academic ineligibility and most recently a foot injury.
I don’t know if he will play against Kentucky, but I’d already put his picture up here before I googled him and found out he was hurt. If I changed course at that point you were going to have to read about Rob Chubb. Nobody wants to do that. If Denson doesn’t play, its a break for the Cats.
For some reason this game really scares me. The game is sold out. The game is late. And the crowd will have ample time to “get comfortable” leading up to the tip. If there will ever be a tough environment to play in at Auburn, this will be it.
I could be wrong. I hope I am. I’m just warning you that it could be a bumpy ride through the state of Alabama the next 4 days. Look on the bright side, though. If Kent and I can survive it, so can the Cats. To borrow a line from Mrs. Tyler, “We got this.”