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Auburn basketball starting to show some signs of life

Published 4:03pm Thursday, December 26, 2013

By Andy Graham

The Auburn basketball team has gotten off to its customary slow start in the 2013-14 season.
Two recent back-to-back blowout losses at the hands of Iowa State (99-70) and Illinois (81-62) gave many pessimistic fans (including myself) ample reason to give up on the season already.  Auburn basketball fans don’t need much of a reason, but times have been especially hard lately on the Plains (on the hardcourt anyway), and it seemed clear this team was headed absolutely nowhere in a hurry.
Tony Barbee and his Tigers took 10 days off after the Illinois loss to finish up with semester finals. I’m not quite sure if the rest did them some good or what happened, but the team has all of a sudden won two in a row and actually shown some fire doing it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to instill any false confidence into anyone.  The Tigers’ recent victories came over competition that paled in comparison to nationally-ranked Iowa State.
However, Auburn defeated Clemson,  which was one of the best defensive teams in the entire country.
Clemson is without question a mid-level ACC team and was heavily favored coming into the game.
The crowd might have been sparse,  and the victory certainly didn’t send shock waves through the NCAA, but it was a big win for Auburn.
Even more surprisingly, the Tigers followed up the big win with another solid win over a bad ACC team in Boston College.
It was a prime opportunity for a letdown, but the Tigers played well, and guard KT Harrell scored a career-high 29 points.
I’m not predicting that Auburn has all of a sudden turned things around. They haven’t.
I’m also not predicting a far better season than last year.
I’m just saying it’s nice to talk about an Auburn basketball win and have something positive to say for a change.
The Tigers are now 6-3 with two more out-of-conference games against two very bad teams (Arkansas Pine Bluff 2-9 & Florida A&M 2-10).
It will be imperative for Auburn to begin the conference season with some momentum, and being 8-3 would be a very good thing, especially considering the Tigers won nine games all of last year.
Honestly, it’s going to be extraordinarily difficult for this Auburn roster to win more games in the SEC than it loses, but just approaching .500 would be considered progress after last season.
Finally, I just want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.
So often we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of this time of year. We’re all traveling from one place to another as fast as we can just so we can turn around and hit the road again.
The elaborate meals that are cooked are stressed over, and everyone wants to strangle that one child who can’t stop asking “is it time to open presents yet, is it time to open presents yet?”
In the midst of all the chaos and overindulgence, take a moment to contemplate just how important your family is to you.
Also, don’t let the tinsel and lights obscure the reason why we sing Joy to the World! The Lord is come!
Graham is a sports columnist for The Outlook.