In college basketball, the rigors of going through conference play—in any conference—can take a toll on a team. Games are played more frequently and power-five programs begin stints of travel that present challenges unlike anything seen in the preseason.
After starting their season 15-0, the Tigers have hit a speed bump, dropping back-to-back games at Alabama and Florida, both by double digits. Auburn dropped 12 spots to No. 16 in the latest AP poll with questions swirling over the legitimacy of this year’s team, and its ability to handle SEC games on the road.
While acknowledging the statistical evidence that his squad performs better at home, Pearl reminded the media that the Tigers cannot rely upon home court advantage for wins.
"Our struggles at the offensive end, against better teams, Alabama and Florida, the two best NET teams that we've played to this point, and we weren't good enough to beat them in good environments," head coach Bruce Pearl said. "Attitude is great and has been great all year long. The guys are working really hard. I understand that the home court isn't going to rebound for us or make shots for us."
Pearl also noted that on top of the offensive struggles on the road, his team is simply just battling the fatigues of weekly conference play. The six occasions on which Auburn will play an opponent on one day shorter of rest were, and are: UGA (Jan. 11), Florida (Jan. 18), Iowa State (Jan. 25), Missouri (Feb. 15) and Tennessee (Feb. 22 and March 7).
“This is typical," Pearl said. "We certainly needed the day off on Sunday. It’ll be interesting. The differences on the Saturday games, we have nine Saturday games. On six occasions, our opponents will have played on Tuesday and we played on Wednesday. The Florida turnaround was a real short turnaround in the sense that we got home late from Alabama, getting home on Thursday at 2 o’clock in the morning because of the late game, then we had to leave early on Friday for Florida. It wasn’t a factor of the outcome, but it happens to us six times this year. That can take its toll, I suppose.”
The Tigers look to snap their current 2-game losing streak when they play host to South Carolina Wednesday night inside Auburn Arena.
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