No NCAA Bid Disappoints Lebo's Tigers

A report on the Auburn men's basketball team is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Jeff Lebo's Auburn Tigers hoped to hear their name called on Sunday when the field for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament was announced. However, that didn't happen and the Tigers will likely accept an NIT bid on Sunday night.

"Our team is disappointed, the kids are disappointed obviously. I told them I didn't want it to diminish the year they had. There is not a whole lot you can say to them. They were disappointed, they were hurt. They made a heck of run here at the end and put them in a position to get in.

"People don't realize how hard it is to get in," Lebo added. "I told them it is very, very difficult to get in this tournament. A lot of things to get in you can't control. I think that is the frustrating thing to try to explain to your team.

"They are tough kids," Lebo said. "I think they will hurt for the rest of the day and then we are not going to talk about it anymore and focus on tomorrow and see what that brings and move forward."

The SEC received only three bids with SEC Tournament runnerup Tennessee, SEC Tournament champion Mississippi State and regular season champ LSU receiving the bids from the SEC.

LSU was an eight seed, Tennessee is a nine seed and Mississippi State is a No. 13 seed.

Rasheem Barrett

"I was surprised at the high seeds, especially Tennessee and the LSU team being that high of a seed," Lebo said. "When I saw Tennessee come across there first as a nine the kids didn't know it, but I knew it we were going to be in trouble at that point. You kind of knew where the league stood in the eyes of the people making the decisions when I saw that."

Senior Rasheem Barrett said he was surprised when he did not hear Auburn's name called as one of the 64 teams for the tournament.

"I think we all did," he said when asked if he believed the Tigers would be in the NCAA field. "Once we had defeated Florida, we thought for sure there was a good chance we would get in.

"I guess the loss to Tennessee hurt us," Barrett said. "People thought we should have got in. I believe we should have. We worked hard for it." Auburn's last invitation to the NCAA Tournament was a trip to the East Regional in 2003. The Tigers opened the tournament with a 65-63 overtime win over St. Joseph's and then knocked off ACC champ Wake Forest 68-62 to advance to the Sweet 16. The first two round games were in Tampa at the same arena the Tigers played in the 2009 SEC Tournament.

The Tigers then gave eventual NCAA champion Syracuse a major scare before falling 79-78 in Albany, N.Y.

Auburn's all-time record in the NCAA Tournament is 12-8 in eight invitations to the big dance. Auburn's first tournament appearance was in 1984 and was the first of five consecutive bids with Sonny Smith coaching the Tigers.

Senior forward Korvotney Barber is a key scorer and rebounder for the Tigers.

The Tigers have played in five other postseason tournaments with five bids to the National Invitational Tournament. The Tigers are 2-5 all-time in NIT contests.

This season's Tigers are 22-11 after defeating Florida 61-58 in the quarter-finals of the SEC Tournament and falling to Tennessee 94-85 in the semi-finals. Tennessee was upset in the championship game on Sunday by Mississippi State.

Coach Nell Fortner's Auburn team will have to wait until Monday evening to find out where they will play in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. The regular season SEC champs, Auburn is expected to be either a one or two seed.

Fortner's Tigers have invited fans to watch the tournament selection show with them at 6 p.m. CDT on Monday at The Buffalo Connection on Shug Jordan Parkway in Auburn.


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