Auburn Basketball Q&A With Fly War Eagle


The Alabama Crimson Tide (12–6, 2–3 SEC) faces a must-win rivalry game as the Auburn Tigers (10–8, 2–3 SEC) travel to Coleman Coliseum on Saturday night.

Both Alabama and Auburn are coming off disappointing losses, Alabama to Arkansas in overtime on Thursday night and Auburn to Mississippi State on Wednesday night.

The arrival of new Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl will certainly breathe new life in the already heated rivalry.

We asked Nicholas Ian Allen, editor of FanSided’s Auburn site Fly War Eagle about the current state of Auburn basketball and what fans can expect in the basketball edition of the Iron Bowl.

Bama Hammer: Auburn’s season has been defined by ups and downs thus far with big wins against teams like Xavier and South Carolina, but tough losses against Tulsa, Vanderbilt and Costal Carolina. How would you grade Bruce Pearl’s first season with the Tigers?

Fly War Eagle: There have certainly been highs and lows, and despite some of the tough losses, this season has been an unquestioned success so far.

The toughest stretch of the non-conference schedule – including the losses to Tulsa and Coastal Carolina you mentioned – came at a time the Tigers were playing with just eight scholarship players. Now, the team is healthier than its been all season and has added some much needed depth as well, which means there is still a lot of upside to this team as all the new pieces gel.

But more important than the record to this point, Bruce Pearl has injected the Auburn basketball program with much needed enthusiasm and he is a recruiting machine that already has a top–15 class lined up for next year. The future is very bright with Bruce Pearl in charge.

BH: Coach Pearl has always been known for recruiting. He currently has the No. 12-ranked class for 2015 according to 247Sports. Is the Auburn fan base excited about the five incoming highly touted freshmen?

FWE: Absolutely. Pearl was hard at work this summer selling Auburn basketball to some of the most talented players in the nation, and there are some exciting prospects that have already signed, such as New Williams, Danjel Purifoy, TJ Dunans and Bryce Brown, plus at least one more top 100 player, Horace Spencer, that is expected to join the program for the 2015–16 season.

Auburn will lose their top two scorers – KT Harrell and Antoine Mason, plus two other valuable senior guards – so the new recruits will have an opportunity to provide an immediate impact.

BH: KT Harrell has been the Tigers’ go-to guy for years now, when it’s all said and done, will you look back on Harrell’s career and think that he might be one of the most underrated players in Auburn history?

FWE: Harrell has been a very consistent scorer over the past two seasons and now has over 1,000 points in his career. Had he played on some better teams, he would certainly receive more recognition. As you said, he’s underrated on the court – but perhaps even more underrated in terms of leadership. Bruce Pearl has said several times that this team’s goal is to reach the post-season for the seniors, and Harrell in particular.

BH: Granted, the Iron Bowl of basketball isn’t nearly as big as its football counterpart, but how meaningful is it for the Auburn fan base to bring home the title of Iron Bowl champions on the court?

FWE: It doesn’t matter if it’s hopscotch, any time Auburn beats Alabama it’s a great day. Picking up a win in Tuscaloosa would be huge, and it would certainly be something Pearl could hang his hat on in Year One.

Tip-off for Saturday night’s game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT. Television coverage will be provided by the SEC Network and via the WatchESPN app.

Although the rivalry runs deep, even in basketball, it’s always great to team up with our FanSided colleagues. Thanks for the time, Nicholas.