Auburn’s Season Ends at the Free Throw Line

They call it madness for a reason, and the Auburn Tigers looked at halftime of their matchup against the #1 seeded Houston Cougars to be on the cusp of defining the word themselves. Leading 41-31 at the break, Bruce Pearl’s squad knocking off Kelvin Sampson’s Cougs would have meant a third #1 seed eliminated on the first weekend of the tournament.

Of course, in incomprehensible fashion, Purdue fell to 16 seeded Fairleigh Dickinson in just the second time this has happened in tournament history, then as Auburn was having a dominating first half, Arkansas knocked off Kansas to advance to their third straight Sweet 16.

Trying to be the third team to knock out a #1 on the weekend was not going to be an easy task, but Auburn could not make the free ones count, shooting an almost unbelievable 19/36 (52.8%) from the charity stripe. This is simply not going to win you games in March. Not to mention the fact that Houston went 18/18 from the line in the second half.

Johni Broome, who has been arguably the Tigers best player this season but struggled from the line all year, shot a mind-boggling 6/16 at the free throw line. Shots in general were not falling for Auburn in the second half and Houston was simply the better team last night, but to be outscored 50-23 in the second half after leading by 10 at the break is almost astounding.

All season long, Auburn has been a good team that struggles to close games out. Saturday’s Round of 32 matchup against Houston was the culmination of that. A disappointing end to a season for the Tigers that just never really fully came together.