Observations: Auburn 81, Mississippi State 68 (OT)
Instead of blowing another big lead and losing again on the road, the Tigers dug deep and pulled out an SEC title-clincher to remember.
Bruce Pearl has won 626 games as a college basketball head coach. Only nine of those wins were ones that clinched a conference championship.
And none of those were quite like the one he got Wednesday night.
“I'd say this is probably one of the best regular season wins I've had in a long career,” Pearl said. “To win a championship on the road at a really good place, against a really good team and a really good coach, with our backs up against the wall — we played really well early, could tell we came ready to play. Didn't have the same effort and energy in the second half and Mississippi State had the building rocking, they were playing great.
“And just, somehow, our guys sucked it up. I think it's because they're competitors and they wanted this championship. Mississippi State wasn't going to give it to us, and we took it.”
Auburn went from up 19 on Mississippi State to down by five in a little more than 15 minutes of game time. It clawed its way back in front and went back-and-forth until it was forced to go to overtime.
Then, in those five extra minutes, the Tigers completely dominated the Bulldogs to get an 81-68 victory that clinched their fourth SEC title all-time — and their second in the last five seasons.
“It felt like all the work we’ve put in has paid off,” said Jabari Smith, who put together arguably the best game of his stellar freshman campaign. “We’re just excited to see how much better we can get, and how much more that we can improve on, and how much more we can move forward.”
It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t complete. But it was memorable — and it was historic.
Here are five Observations from Auburn’s title-clinching win over Mississippi State, plus the Rotation Charts, Nerd Stats and the Quote of the Night.