Pearl, K.T. Praise Auburn Fans

Auburn's head basketball coach and star player speak up about their team's strong fan support despite the Tigers' losing record.

Coach Bruce Pearl (above) is in his first season coaching the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--After a disappointing loss to Georgia to close the regular season, Auburn’s first-year coach Bruce Pearl said there was nothing disappointing about his team’s fans.

After the 64-61 loss on Saturday, Pearl, his players and Auburn’s assistant coaches went to the exits and shook hands with fans, posed for photos and thanked the team’s supporters.

“We are in this together,” Pearl said. “Our fans have been seeing this all year long so there is nothing really new. They were hopeful for more, and yet I do think they appreciate the way we are competing.

“We are in the game,” he said of the loss to the Bulldogs. “We had control of the game the whole way. It was a great atmosphere. Last year in the last home game there might have been 2,000 people in here for Tennessee. Today there were 9,000.

“People left and they said good luck in Nashville,” Pearl added.

The Tigers averaged 8,315 fans per game for 16 regular season home games, breaking the Auburn Arena record of 6,502 in 2011-12. The average is the best since the Tigers drew 9,450 per game at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum in 2001-02.

K.T. Harrell, one of the Tigers honored on Senior Day, agreed with his head coach about the fans. “It was special,” the guard said of the turnout.

“I will always value the time I have had here at Auburn even though we haven’t had that much success on the floor,” added Harrell, the SEC’s leading scorer at 18.1 points per contest. “The support that we have had has been unbelievable this year so I will always take that with me and value that for the rest of my life.

K.T. Harrell, who scored 24 points vs. Georgia, takes a shot vs. the Bulldogs.

“Coach Pearl is doing a great job with turning this program around and I really believe he is going to turn it around a lot sooner than people think,” said Harrell, whose Tigers will play at 6 p.m. CST on Wednesday vs. Mississippi State in the opening round of the SEC Tournament at Nashville.

“With the exception of Kentucky there is not a team there that we can’t beat,” Pearl said. “We have to go up there and try to shock the world and see if we can win some games.

“These kids have not quit,” the coach added. “They have not quit as much as they have been beat down. I am not going to look at the record or the streaks or any of that. I am just going to look at the fact that we competed. We gained some respect.”

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