Thursday, October 29, 2020

LOCKED ON AUBURN: Looking at this game from LSU’s perspective

NCAA Football: Auburn at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

On today’s Locked On Auburn, we have a Crossover Thursday event with Matt Moscona of Locked On LSU. Zac Blackerby and Michael Pappas get intel from what LSU’s potential game plan could be for Saturday’s SEC West matchup and what the Bayou Bengals are expecting from this game.

You can hear the full crossover episode below.

You can hear Locked On Auburn everyday on College and Mag or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Tip-Off Countdown: #34 Auburn 84 #5 Tennessee 80

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

When people ask me what is the best basketball game you’ve ever attended, this is it.

March 9, 2019 - Auburn Arena

Alright, this one is super special to me and allow me to get a little sentimental for a second.

From a personal standpoint, this was my last home game as a student in Auburn Arena. The last chance for me to line up early and wait for hours to go down the stairs that take you to floor level and into the Jungle of Auburn Arena.

I was the first person there that morning, getting in line at 4:30AM for an 11AM tip. Waiting in line for 5 hours seems bad but I’m here to tell you, a lot of people that I still talk to post-Auburn were people that I met in the Jungle and had the same level of passion for Auburn Basketball that I do. I cherish those moments and friendships and memories as my time in the Jungle was the best part of my experience at Auburn.

As for the team, this was the last time we saw Bryce Brown, Jared Harper, Chuma Okeke, Horace Spencer, Malik Dunbar and Cole Blackstock play inside Auburn Arena. I can’t put into words what those guys mean to the Auburn program but they came to Auburn to make history, to bring relevancy to the men’s basketball program and bah gawd, did they do just that!

In their way on Senior Day, was the 5th ranked Tennessee Volunteers, who were looking to earn at least a share of the SEC Regular Season Championship.

Auburn Arena had gotten incredibly loud during my time in Auburn but there were times throughout this game where it was the loudest I’ve ever heard it.

This game was a duel between Chuma Okeke and Tennessee’s Grant Williams. While Williams would start the scoring with a basket on the first possession, Okeke would hit a 3 on Auburn’s first possession.

The shots were falling on both sides early and the pace of this game was also incredible as we went nearly to the under 12 minute mark before we had the game’s first media timeout. Auburn was 4-8 early from 3 with Okeke, Anfernee McLemore, Malik Dunbar and Bryce Brown all making 1 apiece. The Vols led 16-14 with 12:30 to go in the first half.

But Auburn couldn’t slow down Grant Williams or Jordan Bowden who was on fire coming in off the bench. Tennessee surged to a 35-24 lead with 6 minutes to go in the half. Thanks to Okeke though, Auburn was able to hang around as he had 13 1st half points to lead Auburn.

Auburn got within 4 on layup from Jared Harper in the final minute but a questionable blocking foul against Harper in the final 10 seconds sent Auburn Arena into a building full of irate people. Tennessee led 41-35 at halftime after the Williams free throws.

Auburn jumped out of the gate hot in the 2nd half scoring the first 7 of the half. Bryce Brown hit a 3 to get it started and free throws from Dunbar and Brown put the Tigers up 42-41. Tennessee had their own 7-0 run to go back up 6 though.

The lead was 7 for Tennessee with 15 minutes to go when Chuma stepped up once again. He knocked down another 3 pointer and then absolutely picked Admiral Schofield’s pocket and made sure to finish on the other end.

Samir Doughty spent his first season playing in Auburn as role player but man did he make some big shots in this game. The first, coming after Tennessee had gone back up 6 and Doughty hit a shot clock buzzer beating 3 to make it 54-51 Vols. More on the 2nd one later.

The big run for Auburn came midway through the 2nd half and I distinctly remembering being completely out of breathe once we hit the Under 8 Timeout because of all of the action taking place.

We had some #VintageJVon moments in this game with his patented drives to the basket and tough-shot making ability, the first coming with 12 minutes to go and then another that gave Auburn the lead 61-59 with 9:19 to go.

After getting a stop on the other end, Chuma went back to work in the paint getting this pretty layup to go to put the Tigers up by 4.

The teams would continue to throw haymakers and this game was tied at 69 with less than 4 minutes to go. And it was Closer time for the Tigers.

Jared Harper would knock down a 3 with 3:28 to go and then would benefit from some controversy (doesn’t Auburn always benefit from controversy!!!).

It appeared that Jared had missed a 3 and the rebound was tipped in by Anfernee McLemore. But the ruling was a 3-pointer and Auburn was ahead 75-69. I’ll be honest: I thought Anfernee tipped it in and I think a lot of other people did too but “that’s the way it goes” sometimes.

A 3 from Schofield would cut Auburn’s lead in half going into the final 2 minutes.

Now remember earlier I said Samir had a knack for making some big shots? Here’s one of the biggest and my favorite Samir Doughty moment. With less than 90 seconds to go, the Tigers ran clock and with the shot clocking winding down, Jared would drive before getting blocked by Grant Williams. But Williams swatted it right into the hands of an open Doughty behind the 3-point line who calmly knocked it down with 1:14 to go.

After a pair of free throws, Auburn led 80-74 and looked ready to close it out. But.....

A flagrant foul was called on Anfernee McLemore on a hook and hold allowing the Vols to get 2 free throws with 24 seconds to go. On the inbounds pass, Tennessee scored again making it 80-78.

Jared Harper would come down after being fouled and knock down 2 free throws to make it 82-78. Jordan Bone would miss a 3 on the other end and Tennessee would throw it away with 8 seconds left to send Auburn Arena into a frenzy and cueing one final “Party Til We Die” in Auburn Arena for the season. Samir would knock down 2 free throws to ice it and to quote Rod:

“Number Five Goes Down In the Jungle!!!!!!”

Chuma Okeke finished 1 short of his career high with 22 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals and showing a national audience that he was ready for the next level. Jared Harper had 16 points and 8 assists with Bryce Brown also scoring 16 in his final home game, shooting 4-9 from 3. Samir Doughty had 9 points and Anfernee McLemore and J’Von McCormick each added 7 points.

Here are the highlights!

Auburn finished the year winning 4 straight and clinched the #5 seed in the SEC Tournament. And as incredible as these 2 weeks were for Auburn Basketball... this was just the beginning.

War Eagle!

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AM Showers/Wind today!

With a high of 74F and a low of 50F.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Position Grades: Auburn 35, Ole Miss 28

NCAA Football: Auburn at Mississippi Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Not bad, not bad at all... for some of you.

Despite the fact that Auburn was dysfunctional at times in the win against Ole Miss, and despite the fact that certain mistakes from certain areas can really amplify and make a team look worse than they are, the Tigers made great strides in a few areas on Saturday. It’s the kind of improvement that will pay dividends in the future and could turn into a big win as soon as this Saturday.

QUARTERBACKS - B+ for Boseph

Bo Nix was put in a great situation Saturday and made the most of it. His 23/30 line is impressive — completing over 75% of your passes is a VERY good thing when you’ve set the bar closer to 50%. Look, Ole Miss obviously isn’t an elite defense, but Bo Nix didn’t fumble the game away, didn’t throw an interception, and performed well under pressure. His chemistry with Seth was obviously never really gone. In addition, he completed 7 passes to Anthony Schwartz and another 5 to Eli Stove, WITH a key completion to a tight end for a first down! Hopefully Nix can build on that momentum coming home Saturday in front of a friendly crowd.


Auburn posted 224 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns on 44 carries yesterday. It was essentially the game plan that we were all clamoring for over the past week, and Gus Malzahn/Chad Morris let the talent eat. Tank Bigsby was superb, leading the way with 129 yards on 24 carries and scoring a pair of touchdowns, including one that had people mentioning Cadillac Williams’ name as a comparison on Twitter.

He even returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, but it got called back for an extremely soft hold away from the play. Ole Miss fans don’t want to mention that in their analysis of the officiating. Aside from Tank, Shaun Shivers went for 60 yards and a score on 11 carries, and Auburn’s one-two combo looked really solid all game long.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS - A for all of the YAC yards

This was the game we’ve been looking for out of the Auburn wide receivers. Sure, the team only tallied a pedestrian 238 receiving yards and one touchdown. But of those 238 yards, 157 of the them (66%) were gained after the catch. It was more than just Seth and Schwartz, too, with eight of the 23 balls being caught by someone other than the big two. I’m not ready to say this passing game has turned a corner, but if we do see an uptick the rest of the year, this will be the game we look back on.

Also, major props for our favorite big boi J.J. Pegues mauling a defender in run block.

OFFENSIVE LINE - B+ for blocking good plus our run game is actually pretty solid

This offensive line has done a great job of getting better as the season has gone on. I’m really proud to see a group show that they can improve and find something more within themselves than what I saw in 2018/2019 out of the offensive line. They established a new line of scrimmage against Ole Miss and allowed not just Tank Bigsby to run wild, but they opened up lanes for the less shifty Shaun Shivers. Pass protection break downs are still there and are going to be a problem as we go into LSU and beyond, but overall it’s hard not to be pleased with the direction of this group. Here’s hoping Brandon Council heals up well and that Keiondre Jones is ready. We’re going to need him.

DEFENSIVE LINE - B for blowing things up for a change!

It would be nice to see this group get home and finish on the quarterback more regularly. I’m afraid that if we have a legitimate pass rusher on this roster, then we won’t see him until Romelo Height is actually healthy. That being said, this group did enough to keep the linebackers in open field and disrupt the pocket to avoid any real deep passing threat. That counts for something and is going to matter going into this weekend against LSU. They just need to get healthy and give maximum effort every play. Without both this group is going to struggle the rest of the way.

LINEBACKERS - C-minus for “I would like to see minus yardage more often for opposing offenses”

Ole Miss ran for 283 yards yesterday, averaging about 5.5 yards per carry. Much of that is the fact that Rebel running backs were able to get through the hole without much resistance, but our linebackers need to be there plugging those gaps. Owen Pappoe had a big game stat wise, but he was making tackles downfield (14 stops on the day), while Zakoby McClain added 8 tackles. Neither had a tackle for loss, and the fact that our starting safeties combined for 23 tackles is frustrating. It means that the backers weren’t in position to make those plays. True, K.J. Britt’s absence is tough on the other two, because we just have no depth right now, but Ole Miss was running free from the start. We’ll see what happens when the opposing offense doesn’t have a mobile quarterback.

DEFENSIVE BACKS - A for a whopping 2.0 yards per target for the SEC’s leading receiver

You read that right. Elijah Moore was averaging 13.8 yards per catch and 10.5 receptions per game headed into Saturday’s game, but the Auburn secondary absolutely pissed all over the junior wideout’s efforts. And it’s not like Matt Corral and the Rebel passing game found room elsewhere. Corral ended the day with just 154 yards, one score, and two interceptions*, just under half of his weekly yards average. It was a team effort, as well, as Moore duty shuffled around the secondary.

*Jordyn Peters’s interception might be tied with Justin Herbert for the worst throw to the endzone at the end of a game. And I’m not totally sure it counts, since it wasn’t a legal pass.

SPECIAL TEAMS - D for don’t let the game fall into the replay official’s hands anymore PLEASE

Special teams mistakes nearly lost this game:

  1. However phantom the hold might have been, Tank Bigsby’s kickoff return touchdown to open the second half was taken off the board.
  2. Ladarius Tennison muffed a kickoff that resulted in poor field position.
  3. A bad punt snap that resulted in immediate scoring position for Ole Miss
  4. A bad FG snap that resulted in Auburn trailing by 1 and needing a score to not lose, rather than avoid overtime.
  5. That play

On the bright side, kickoff (3 TBs, one fair catch, and two returns of less than 25 yards) and punt coverage (1 for -9 due to a muff) were good. Eli Stove took over returning punts, and the 3 Ole Miss punts resulted in a solid return, a fair catch in good field position, and a touchback. That’s a major improvement over last week. Still, those positives can merely make this a passing grade due to the other issues. Make those mistakes again, and it’s unlikely Auburn comes out ahead next time.

COACHING - A for actually a great job, keep it up

Auburn has more talent on the field than Ole Miss. However, Auburn out-schemed Ole Miss big-time. Auburn’s defensive strategy worked flawlessly. Steele has always leaned into a “bend don’t break” mentality. This limited explosive plays from the explosive Ole Miss offense.

Auburn also leaned into it’s biggest strength on offense: Tank Bigsby. The true freshman was given every opportunity to carry the team. Props to the coaches for recognizing that and trusting a true freshman. That isn’t something that happens a lot with this coaching staff, so proper credit must be given when it is due.


Dang Oxford Rebel fans are going to have to crowdsource their pennies for Lane Kiffin’s 2.5 million coins he needs to pay his fine.

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Sports Night in Auburn 10-28

Sports Night in Auburn 10-28
Tune in to hear all about Auburn's win against Ole Miss and how they are prepping for the Halloween battle against LSU this weekend.

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News Update 10.28

News Update 10.28

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Plain Talk with Jordan Parker, Vice Chairman of Auburn University College Republicans

Plain Talk with Jordan Parker, Vice Chairman of Auburn University College Republicans

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NEW EPISODE: Orange and True Pre-Spooky LSU Fun

Hey, Barn Cheatin’, am I right?

With everything going on this year, it’s time for us to look at the inevitability of a really unbelievable game between Auburn and LSU this weekend. The Tigers are BARN CHEATIN hard right now and it’s pissing everyone off, which is great. However, LSU seemed to get in order a bit last Saturday, so we know this Halloween full-moon matchup is going to be one for the ages.

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LOCKED ON AUBURN: What to watch for in Auburn’s game with LSU

NCAA Football: Auburn at Louisiana State Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

On today’s Locked On Auburn, Zac Blackerby is back in studio and he’s solo and breaks down the highlights from Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn’s Tuesday press conference. Blackerby also looks at the top individual matchups in the Auburn/LSU matchup on Saturday.

You can hear the full conversation below.

You can hear Locked On Auburn everyday on College and Mag or wherever you get your podcasts!

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10-24-2020 Gus Malzahn Presser

10-24-2020 Gus Malzahn Presser

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Tip-Off Countdown: #35 Auburn 66 Alabama 60

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

“Get That Broom Out!!!!” - Bryce Brown

March 5, 2019 - Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Over the course of any season, particularly one as special as this Auburn Basketball team experienced, there are defining moments that people will hang onto for years. What happened in the 2nd half of the game in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on March 5, 2019 is one of those defining moments.

As we entered the final week of the regular season, the Tigers had earned 20 wins and punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament after wins over Georgia and Mississippi State.

For Alabama, this was a win they desperately needed as they sat squarely on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.

Early on, the desperate team came out on fire.

Chuma Okeke would get the game’s first basket a minute in but Alabama would go on a 12-0 run to take a 12-2 3:25 into the game. But Bruce trusted his group and Jared Harper would knock down a 3 and Okeke’s second basket allowed the Tigers to weather the early storm and trailed 12-7 at the first TV timeout.

Auburn couldn’t get any closer than 5 most of the first half as Alabama continued to stretch the lead back to double digits through the games first 20 minutes. Alabama would take a 34-23 lead into the locker room.

But as Avery Johnson would say, “It was a Tale of Two Halves.”

Auburn would cut the lead down to 7 in the early moments of the 2nd half thanks a moment from #ClassicMalik.

Despite this, Alabama responded once again and Auburn got T’d up going into the Under 16 timeout after a foul call on Chuma Okeke. After that possession, Alabama led 43-31.

But this resilient group continued to battle and stay in the game and if anything, the T fueled Auburn.

After 3 free throws to cut the deficit to 9, Jared Harper made a layup with 13 minutes to go and Chuma Okeke tipped the inbounds pass to himself and calmly knocked a 3-pointer down in the corner. Suddenly, it was a 4 point game. Game on!

On the next possession, Malik Dunbar would convert a tough basket in the paint while drawing a foul. He would make his free throw and the 3-point play cut a 12 point Alabama lead down to 1.

After Alabama scored, Dunbar would tie the game at 45 with a 3 pointer with 10:51 to go. After a turnover by Alabama, the Tigers would take their first lead since being up 2-0 on a jumper in the paint from J’Von McCormick. And a dunk from Anfernee McLemore off a beautiful feed from Okeke put Auburn ahead 49-45 with 9:21 to go.

Auburn would go 5 minutes without a basket until that dude Bryce Brown came up clutch. His 3-pointer, only the 2nd of the game for him gave Auburn a 55-52 lead with 4:21 to go. Herbert Jones scored on the other end and we went into the Under 4 timeout 55-54 Auburn.

Samir Doughty would hit a big 3 with 2:25 to go off a steal from Jared Harper to put Auburn up 60-55. But baskets from Jones and a 3 from Tevin Mack tied the game at 60 with 1:30 to go.

Insert Jared Harper: The Closer

After an Auburn timeout, Jared would drive into the paint for a layup with 1:10 to go to make it 62-60. On the other end, Okeke’s terrific defense would force a turnover from Kira Lewis Jr. and Auburn would get the ball to their closer. Just as he did on the previous possession, Harper drove left and banked another layup off the glass with 18.4 seconds to go. Alabama would attempt to bring the ball up but Samir Doughty intercepted a long pass and was fouled with 12.7 seconds left. Samir would hit both free throws and Alabama would miss a 3 to end their chances of victory.

Here Harper’s 2 layups and Samir’s steal in GIF form:

And with the win over Alabama that meant.....

Auburn completed a sweep of both Alabama and Georgia (while playing both teams twice in the season) for the first time in 52 years!!

Chuma Okeke had 17 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Tigers as his incredible March would lead him to the first round of the NBA Draft. Jared Harper had 16 points. Harper and Okeke were the only guys in double figures but key contributions up and down the lineup were critical in this game, including Malik Dunbar, Bryce Brown and Samir Doughty who had 8, 7, and 7 points respectively.

Here are the highlights!!!

The win moved Auburn’s record to 21-9, and 10-7 in the SEC with a game at home against #5 Tennessee to finish the regular season. I leave you today with this, the team’s postgame hype video after the win. We’re 4 weeks away from tipping off another season! War Eagle to that!

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Scattered Thunderstorms today!

With a high of 77F and a low of 72F.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

LOCKED ON AUBURN: Turning our focus to Auburn’s showdown with LSU

Syndication: Montgomery Jake Crandall, Montgomery Advertiser via Imagn Content Services, LLC

On today’s Locked On Auburn, Zac Blackerby and Michael Pappas discuss the latest news pertaining to Auburn football, list some fun stats from JoshDub, give updates regarding Auburn basketball, and tackle some listener questions.

Here’s a transcribed part of the show discussing some of the stats shared by JoshDub on Twitter.

Blackerby: Seth Williams cracked the top 10 in career receiving yards in Auburn history. He passed Sammy Coates, Williams trails Lawyer Tillman by a mere 20 yards for ninth place. Additionally, he is tied with Emory Blake, a friend of the program, for fifth-most receiving touchdowns in Auburn history. This is amazing to me. Not that I don’t want to discredit Seth or anything, but it’s just kind of amazing how unimpressive Auburn’s receiving records are.

Pappas: Yeah, I mean, we talked about this. I don’t know if it was in the underrated show that we did or what but at the end of this season, I think at the time, they hadn’t shortened the season yet, but if I remember correctly, looking at the numbers, Seth has a very good chance to end this season in second place in every Auburn receiving statistical measure behind Terry Beasley whose numbers are almost uncatchable. Let’s be honest, his numbers are ridiculous. I know I’ve been hard on Seth Williams, but I think that we’re definitely gonna look back and be like, Oh, okay. may have been the best receiver in Auburn football history.

You can hear the full conversation below.

You can hear Locked On Auburn every day on College and Mag or wherever you get your podcasts!

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SGA Meeting 10-26-20

SGA Meeting 10-26-20

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Tip-Off Countdown: #36 Auburn 80 Mississippi State 75

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

After this win, you could put a LOCK next to Auburn’s name in regards to the NCAA Tournament.

March 2, 2019 - Auburn Arena

Following an exhilarating win at Georgia, the Tigers came home to play Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and the Mississippi State Bulldogs. It was an opportunity to avenge a loss at the end of January in Starkville and bolster the tournament resume.

In somewhat routine fashion, the Tigers got on the board with a 3... courtesy of Anfernee McLemore. Auburn would also get 3s from Malik Dunbar and Samir Doughty in the game’s first 4 minutes and the Tigers led 11-2 early.

McLemore’s 2nd 3 of the game put Auburn ahead 18-9 but the Bulldogs went on a 7-0 run to force a rare early 1st timeout from Bruce as Miss State trailed by just 2.

The 4 12 minute scoring drought would end courtesy of a 3-point play from Chuma Okeke. And then the 3 balls started falling for Bryce Brown towards the tail end of the half. Brown’s 1st 3 put Auburn up 28-19 and his second gave Auburn it’s first double digit lead of the game, 31-20. It was 33-25 Auburn at halftime.

Bryce would make the first basket of the 2nd half and Anfernee McLemore’s 3rd 3 of the game put Auburn ahead 40-28. Auburn’s defense would continue to force turnovers and Bryce Brown’s 3 following a steal from Jared Harper gave Auburn a 49-33 lead with 13:31 to go.

Auburn continued to hold a double digit lead most of the second half. Miss State cut it to 54-43 before 3s from Samir Doughty and Danjel Purifoy on back to back possessions gave Auburn a 60-43 lead with 9 minutes to go. A 4th 3 from Anfernee McLemore would give Auburn its largest lead of the afternoon at 69-50 with 6:20 to go.

And then Auburn went cold and this game got much more interesting than it should have....

Over the next 4 minutes, Mississippi State would go on a 17-2 run to cut Auburn’s lead to 71-67 with 2:30 to go. The Bulldogs had a chance to cut it down to 1 or 2 but were unable to capitalize. With a little over a minute to go and the shot clock winding down, that dude Bryce Brown would not be denied hitting this dagger 3 to put Auburn back up 7.

Auburn would hang on from there earning a much needed Q1 win. Bryce Brown had 16 points in the 2nd half and led Auburn with 24 points on the afternoon. He shot 5-8 from 3 as the team was 13-30 overall. Anfernee McLemore hit 4 3s and had 14 points. Chuma Okeke had 11 points and 7 rebounds with 10 points and 9 assists coming from Jared Harper. But more importantly, he had 0 turnovers and took 3 charges on Lamar Peters frustrating one of the Bulldogs best players.

The win was the Tigers 20th of the season meaning consecutive seasons of 20 wins which hasn’t happened too often in these parts. On top of every game falling the way Auburn needed it and suddenly the Tigers were right back in the talk of a Top 4 seed in the SEC Tournament after being around the 8-9 mark going into the week.

Here are the highlights!

Tomorrow, we break out the brooms once again.

War Eagle!

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