Game #9-081: Auburn at Charleston CougarsNovember 16, 2012 7:30 pm
After two Red Line Upsets in the previous games, the last game of the second day of the Charleston Classic would feature Auburn against College of Charleston. Auburn had been routed in a RLU against Murray State the previous day
, while College of Charleston had not been competitive the previous day against St. John's
. It seemed weird that Day 2 of the Charleston Classic would start with a winners' bracket game and end with a consolation bracket game. In previous years, Day 2 of the Charleston Classic had the second game of each session as winners' bracket games, but not this year. Considering that College of Charleston was at home and facing a team that had lost badly the day before, this had the potential to be yet another Red Line Upset. Only question: was this what I wanted?
I do not like Auburn. They are a big SEC school that generates a statewide fan base that mostly revolves around football. On the other side, College of Charleston is one of the closer mid-majors to where I live, and handles sports better than most southern schools. They do not have football like most SoCon schools and instead focuses their energy on basketball. But it was personal greed that made me wonder if I should root for Auburn. If the Cougars pulled the RLU here, they would face Dayton in the second game of Day 3 on Sunday. If C of C lost to Auburn, they would face Boston College in the first game. If the latter option occurred, there would be no mid vs. mid games. And that would mean that there would be once again three TMM eligible games on Sunday, meaning there would be another opportunity for the Hopping Cats to get points! We always like to see Red Line Upsets here at The Mid-Majority. But tonight a RLU would take away a potential eligible game from the Hopping Cats. I do not like Auburn. I do like College of Charleston. But yet for our standing in The Game we somehow needed the RLU to not
A twist on the same dilemma was in play the previous night in the Murray State-Auburn game. I wanted Murray State to get a Red Line Upset over Auburn, which they emphatically did. But in order for the Racers to have such an easy time, Isaiah Canaan had to catch fire and have a big game. And Canaan's statistics contribute to the point total of one of our competing teams in Jen Folds Five. I was impressed with Canaan's performance and happy for the Racers in humiliating a power conference school. Yet I also realized that Canaan was contributing points to Jen Folds Five, which could make a difference in The Game standings if the Hopping Cats and Jen Folds Five are close together. With that said, the Hopping Cats needed a Murray State win any way we could get it as well. Had the Racers lost to Auburn, Murray State would be playing in this game against Charleston and thus eliminating a TMM eligible game for Friday. But in this game, we needed the RLU to not happen to give us the maximum nine eligible games out of the Charleston Classic.
But I knew I could not root for Auburn. Auburn is a school whose football team's budget skyrocketed in the midst of the shady recruiting of Cam Newton. And this increased investment in football at Auburn paid off at least in the short term as the Tigers won the national championship with Newton. And I could not root against a Red Line Upset on behalf of the Hopping Cats especially considering that we have a Hopping Cats writer who is a student at C of C
. We would get 100+ points more if College of Charleston were to lose, but that's not what was most important. What was important was that if a College of Charleston win happened, we would have THREE Red Line Upsets seen in one day! Three RLUs in one arena in one day would be an extremely rare feat that would be exciting to report on. That however would not give the Hopping Cats points. But Red Line Upsets
is what Mid-Majority has always been out, more so than various individual milestones
that have been celebrated on here as well.
But before the game, I noticed that College of Charleston did not appear to have their full lineup. And as Joe Wright mentioned in his recap
, the Cougars were without point guard Andrew Lawrence who had fallen ill. And Lawrence being sick seemed to be analogous to how the Cougars' offense played without him. Without Lawrence, who played for Team GB in this summer's Olympics in London, the Cougars did not have a guy who could run the offense efficiently. Lawrence distributes the ball well and can also pull up and hit shots. While Lawrence does not usually dominate the point totals, he is still the main leader of the Charleston offense. And C of C did not have that and had a hard time finding good shots and taking them. The bigger Auburn team would have the edge most of the first half. But Auburn did not have any spark on offense either, and the Cougars would get a big push to close the first half. Trent Wiedeman excited the crowd with this incredible omgdunx to put the Cougars within one, and free throws by Anthony Stitt gave the College an improbable 23-22 halftime lead.
At halftime, the Stall High School band performed, trying their best to make a basketball court as marchable as a football field. The tournament organizers of the Charleston Classic have used local high school bands at recent tournaments as a way to fill in for the bands of the competing teams. Obviously College of Charleston was able to bring their own pep band, and Stall's band effectively served as the band for Auburn. Some high school bands I have seen at the tournament before have tried to learn the fight songs for the colleges they are filling in for. Stall did not play any Auburn-related songs, but they did heckle C of C players as they were taking free throws. This seemed to irk some of the local fans around me who saw a high school from within 15 miles of Charleston serving as antagonists to the local college team. I really did not mind too much, although there should have been more clear announcements and designations of Stall as being Auburn's band to avoid confusion. Some of the fans felt as if Stall was trying to root against the home team (although C of C was officially the visitors tonight in their own arena). The only problem I have had with the high school bands are the acoustic issues of having a full-sized marching band perform in an enclosed indoor space like TD Arena. An outdoor football stadium can distribute the noise better than a basketball gym can.
The second half started with the home team/officially away team trying to protect a one point lead. But after the first media timeout of the second half, Auburn began to threaten to take over. Auburn was the bigger team with more depth, and it showed. And to make matters worse late in the game, Wiedeman left injured making the Cougars even more shorthanded. Yet the defensive minded approach by Doug Wojcik allowed College of Charleston to always have a chance at the third Red Line Upset of the day. But the Cougars could not generate any big runs in the second half, and Auburn did just enough down the stretch to get the 55-51 road/neutral site/whatever you want to call it win.
As it turned out, my Hopping Cats would indeed have a chance for more points on Sunday. But it's not about me, my team, or The Game. It's about Our Game. Kyle has said that he has never intended his work and milestones here at TMM to be about him. I remember on one chat someone ask Kyle about some crazy guy who was trying to find a way to visit every Division I arena, often just stepping inside an arena while a game was going on for a few minutes before leaving for the next. Kyle was dismissive of this as he viewed it more important to do something for the game he was writing about. This game of basketball is much bigger than the Hopping Cats and The Game. It is about a struggle of overcoming inequality, and that is why we celebrate all Red Line Upsets here. But a third RLU could not happen here. Oh well. I just know that I will always have another recap to write in my free trime.
AUBURN 55, at CHARLESTON 51
AUBURN 2-1 (0-0) -- F. Sullivan 9-18 4-4 24; R. Chubb 2-6 0-0 4; A. Payne 0-7 0-0 0; S. Adamu 3-5 4-6 11; J. Wallace 0-2 0-0 0; J. Price 1-5 2-2 4; N. Johnson 4-7 1-2 12; S. Johnson 0-2 0-0 0; A. Dixon-Tatum 0-1 0-0 0; B. Greene Jr. 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-53 11-14 55.
CHARLESTON 1-2 (0-0) -- A. Stitt 3-9 3-4 11; N. Johnson 2-5 2-3 7; T. Wiedeman 4-11 0-2 8; A. Baru 2-3 1-2 5; A. Thomas 2-10 1-2 6; T. Johnson 2-4 2-4 6; M. Sundberg 3-5 1-1 8; W. Hall 0-0 0-0 0; T. Dixon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-47 10-18 51.
Three-point goals: AUB 6-17 (J. Wallace 0-1; F. Sullivan 2-5; N. Johnson 3-4; S. Adamu 1-3; A. Payne 0-1; S. Johnson 0-1; J. Price 0-2), COFC 5-15 (M. Sundberg 1-2; N. Johnson 1-4; A. Stitt 2-6; T. Johnson 0-1; A. Thomas 1-2); Rebounds: AUB 21 (F. Sullivan 5), COFC 38 (A. Baru 11); Assists: AUB 7 (F. Sullivan 2), COFC 5 (N. Johnson 2); Total Fouls -- AUB 16, COFC 18; Fouled Out: AUB-None; COFC-None.
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