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Auburn will be relying on players who didn’t have “blue blood” offers

Kentucky’s Keldon Johnson, a McDonald’s All-American, celebrated with UK fans after Friday’s win over Houston. (Vicky Graff Photo)


Auburn’s Afternee McLemore thinks his team’s loss at Rupp Arena is a major reason the Tigers are playing Kentucky today in the Midwest Region final for a Final Four berth.

“I believe that we may have been spoiled early in the season from the previous year’s success. But coming from the Kentucky loss, there was a point in the locker room we felt like we were tired of losing,” McLemore said. “The atmosphere changed and all the guys became locked in and ready. We was more engaged and more ready to take on the rest of the season.”

Auburn has won 11 straight games, including wins over Kansas and North Carolina in its last two NCAA games. Now the Tigers get Kentucky.

Were any of the Tigers recruited by UK, North Carolina or Kansas?

“I wasn’t recruited by any of those schools. We’re be ready to play. You play good team defense as a unit and be able to prosper in that area,” Auburn senior Horace Spencer said.

“I wasn’t, either,” Auburn’s Malik Dunbar said. “Here and Ole Miss were my two biggest offers. I’m ready to play whoever they put in front of us. I’m blessed with the opportunity.”

“I wasn’t recruited by any of the schools. I think Chuma was recruited by Kansas. I don’t know. I don’t think we really take that too personal,” Auburn guard Jared Harper said. “We felt like we’re all good players. We’ve all been good players and have a great coach that believes in us here at Auburn. It was a perfect situation for all of us. We’re just happy to be here.”

“I wasn’t recruited at all,” Auburn’s Bryce Brown said. Ditto for Anfernee McLemore.

Kentucky’s roster is filled with McDonald’s All-Americans and players that have been in USA Basketball camps. Auburn, and most SEC teams, have to rely on recruits not as highly regarded.

I just think that there’s so much more parity in college basketball, because there are more good teams both in high school and in the summer where these other guys are also training at a higher level than maybe back in the day,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.  “Back in the day it was clear who your first team All-state guys were and all your USA basketball guys, but there’s just now more to choose from.

“We’re not really missing them. You still got — still the tale of the tape. The guys with the big names and reputations, the big schools — when you see Kentucky take the floor against Auburn tomorrow, you’ll see a difference in the tale of the tape. We’ll be looking up to them at most positions. That’s why those guys play in McDonald’s game and our guys don’t.”



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  1. We can win this game. We should win this game. With that being said, I have an uneasy feeling about this game. Pearl is a master at motivating his players. He is making a big deal about how none of his players got offers from KU, UNC, and UK. He has been telling them that these blueblood schools thought they were mutts. They have already beaten UT twice since the azzwhooping we gave them in Lexington. They have beaten KU AND UNC convincingly in the tournament. We better be ready for a battle cause his kids are trying to prove something here. Its a lot more than just winning the region, They are wanting to show that they are better than the so called 5 star McDonald’s guys that are on our team. Will it work?
    This is our chance to prove something too. We aren’t the overrated sissyboys that got baitchslapped by Duke in the first game of the season. We are the better team. Go out there and prove it guys!

    1. One game at a time, but I must confess…
      UK beating Duke for the championship would be a dream come true.

  2. I’m a Lifelong Big Blue Fan, but I’m also an Auburn fan.
    If UK wins, I will be on cloud nine.
    If Auburn wins, I won’t be all that sad.
    Whoever wins…Go
    WAY !!!

  3. I love UK, but I don’t see a win today.
    Auburn knows how hard they have to play to win; but UK has beaten them twice. How do you convince a bunch of kids this is not the same team they have already beaten? You can’t.
    Auburn has better shooters, more speed, revenge, and playing for Chuma Okeke all on their side.
    If UK wins, it will be a huge struggle; I don’t see the game being close.
    If Auburn continues to shoot as they have and play defense as they have, they will beat everyone in their path to the Championship.

  4. It seems like we have established an identity. Get a lead, coast along till its gone, and then battle for a win at the end of the game. I was hoping this team would develop a killer mentality, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. Looks like another grind it out second half.

  5. PJ’s free throw shooting cost them again; just like last year, along with no consistent outside threat.

    1. Just curious Old Fan if you watched PJ play. You think his four missed free throws cost UK the game. He was UK’s best player in the last two games. Where would they have been without him today. Just a very unfair comment to make in my opinion. Easy to be upset with the loss but to blame PJ just seems ridiculous to me

      1. AMEN, Larry.

    2. Yep, and just like last year, we wouldn’t even have been in the game without PJ. Two years in a row, PJ played hurt and yet still gets slammed by “fans.” I wonder how many of you criticizing would have played last year with your pinkie broken like it was, and this year with a sprained foot that by most expert opinions would take 4 weeks to fully heal and yet PJ toughed it out after only 2 weeks. I am as disappointed as anyone, but get real.

  6. Hagans was terrible and Herro was a no show.
    Oh well…
    GO AUBURN !!!

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