Bud Walton Arena was rocking, and the Arkansas Razorbacks trapped Auburn into a corner with no way out. It was the ninth straight win for Arkansas, but for the first time in a long time, it felt like old-school Arkansas Razorbacks basketball on Tuesday night as the Hogs shut down the number one ranked Auburn Tigers.
It was a magical night in Fayetteville as the crowd at Bud Walton Arena showed the world who has the most intimidating home-court advantages in all of College Basketball.
So how did the Razorbacks do it?
Now that the winning streak is over, how does Auburn respond?
First, Arkansas did it by using the gameplan of Georgia and Missouri and simply outmanned the Tigers tonight. There was a point in the game where Arkansas found itself up by as many as twelve points before closing out Auburn 80-76.
Like a few programs before them, Arkansas went right at Auburn and forced the Tigers into a rock fight better known as a grown man basketball game. Auburn didn’t have an answer.
Kessler fouled out late in the second half for Auburn, and from there, it felt like destiny for the Arkansas Razorbacks to defend their homecourt and leave Tuesday night with a monster win over the top-ranked Auburn Tigers. Head Coach Eric Musselman prides himself on having teams that will control the tempo while beating the hell out of their opponent, and that mindset was the crucial piece in getting the Razorbacks across the finish line.
However, you want to know what’s more impressive than defeating the number one team in the country on Tuesday night? It’s the fact that Head Coach Eric Musselman and his Razorbacks have won nine straight games and have renewed the excitement surrounding Arkansas Basketball. If we’re honest, the SEC is better when Arkansas is good at Basketball, and Coach Musselman has the Razorback faithful believing in their team as they make the final push to March.
So what about Auburn? What’s next for Bruce Pearl and his Tigers?
Before the Auburn faithful hits the panic button over one conference road loss, it’s crucial to keep things in perspective; Auburn is still one of the best teams in the country with a legitimate shot at winning a National Championship.
Auburn is still one of six programs with a legitimate shot at winning a National Championship. Coming into the Arkansas game, Auburn had gotten prideful and away from the humble roots that made Auburn Basketball so special this season. Like so many programs before, Auburn needed a loss to be humbled to make the stark realization that although they’re a damn good basketball team, they too can still be beaten. Losing is never fun at any level in sports, but in College Basketball, it’s better to take a loss in early February to allow for growth and maturity to happen before starting March Madness.
Once you reach March Madness, there is no do-over. There’s no more time to allow programs to fine-tune anything. Once you get to March Madness, nothing else matters. The true test of this Auburn Basketball team will come over the next several days. It’s not about being knocked down; it’s about rebounding and fighting back to continue to build the brand of Auburn Basketball.
We’ve said it before Southeastern Conference Basketball is something no words could ever do justice upsets, and mayhem will continue to happen as we prepare for the downward slope to the SEC Tournament in Tampa.