No. 17 Auburn has eye on SEC tourney as Texas A&M visits

NCAA Basketball
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Auburn may no longer have a shot at the Southeastern Conference regular-season title, but the Tigers still have significant games remaining on their schedule, starting with their home finale Wednesday night against Texas A&M.

The 17th-ranked Tigers (24-5, 11-5 SEC) remain tied with LSU for second place after a Saturday loss at Kentucky, but they hold the tiebreaker for the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament by virtue of their win over LSU on Feb. 8.

An Auburn victory over the Aggies would eliminate LSU (20-9, 11-5 SEC) from consideration for the No. 2 seed and also eliminate Mississippi State, which is tied with Florida for the key fourth seed at 10-6 in conference play, because Auburn also won the only regular-season meeting with the Bulldogs.

However, the Gators would remain alive for a top-four seed if they wind up tied with Auburn by virtue of their win in the only meeting between the two in the regular season.

Ending up with one of the top four seeds in the SEC tourney is crucial because it gives a team a double bye into the quarterfinals. The 2020 tourney will be March 11-15 in Nashville, Tenn.

Auburn, of course, can eliminate all the potential tiebreaking tribulations by winning against the Aggies and at Tennessee.

This will be the Tigers’ only meeting with the Aggies (14-14, 8-8), who are coming off a 64-50 loss at LSU and have dropped their past two outings after putting together a three-game winning streak that equaled their longest of the season.

The Aggies had two players in double figures against LSU — Savion Flagg with 17 points and Josh Nebo with 11 — but freshman Emanuel Miller, a 6-foot-7 forward who averaged 11.7 points and 6.7 rebounds during the winning streak, managed only two points and two rebounds. He has only two points and five rebounds total over the past two games.

“When he’s very active on the glass, it’s game-changing for us,” Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams said. “I think he had three rebounds in the last game, and we have no chance when that happens.”

Auburn made a strong run at Kentucky on Saturday but couldn’t get over the hump in a 73-66 defeat. The Tigers shot only 28.1 percent from the field in the second half to finish at 36.1 percent overall. They were 2 of 16 from 3-point range and 9 of 16 from the free-throw line over the last 20 minutes.

“If we make some of those shots in the second half and we make a couple of our free throws, we’re right there,” Tigers coach Bruce Pearl said. “But we didn’t.”

J’Von McCormick paced Auburn with 13 points against the Wildcats, but Austin Wiley was the only other Tigers in double figures, finishing with 10 points.

The Tigers will be going for their 20th consecutive home victory and their 17th this season in Auburn Arena.

Texas A&M won its most recent meeting with Auburn, 85-66 on Jan. 16, 2019, in College Station, Texas. The Tigers had captured the previous three matchups.

–Field Level Media

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