Auburn took care of business on Thursday, beating Missouri 81-71 in the Second Round of the 2019 SEC Tournament game.
Following the game, head coach Bruce Pearl expressed his level of confidence in his team as they appear to be heating up at exactly the right time in the season. While his team may be hot this season, the Tigers had been on a bad skid in recent conference tournaments.
Why did it take Auburn so long to win a game in the SEC Tournament?
“That’s because before those guys got here, we had won three in a row and we used up all our mojo,” Pearl joked before giving an honest assessment. “It means we are continuing to make history. That’s a good Missouri team. This basketball team is 5-0 in the month of March right now.”
A big key for Auburn against Missouri, and in the team’s five-game winning streak, has been the depth on the roster. The Tigers had four players reach double figures to open the conference tournament and that’s something Pearl noted following the game.
“It’s trust in the process, it’s trust in your bench… Dr. Tom Davis was my mentor and he just always believed in trusting your bench and the power in numbers, especially late in the season or late in games. It’s paying off for this coach,” he said.
With the win on Thursday, Auburn advances to the quarterfinals stage and will face No. 4 seed South Carolina on Friday. That game will be broadcast by ESPN and begins at 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT.
What was Pearl’s initial reaction when realizing his team is moving on to face the Gamecocks?
“That Frank Martin owns me. He owns me,” Pearl said. “He’s a big strong, tough guy, his team plays just that same way. We can’t get big boyed against them. We have got to find a way to score against them. It will be a great challenge.”