NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Bruce Pearl hates the expression “live by the 3, die by the 3.”
“Whoever made that doesn’t have a clue about basketball because you live pretty well off the 3 ball,” the Auburn head coach said back in November.
This Auburn team has been a prime example of that this season. The Tigers have 24 wins. They’re in the semifinals of the SEC tournament for only the fifth time since 2000. They’re a lock to make the NCAA tournament. And after Friday’s game, they now own the SEC single-season record for 3-pointers made by one team with 368 and counting. The previous mark was 361 set by Arkansas in 1995.
“Look, we set an SEC record, all time, for the most threes,” Pearl said after the game. “We don’t just make a lot of them. We shoot a good percentage. We work at them really hard.”
What was ironic was that Auburn set the record in a game that was more or less won at the free-throw line, not the 3-point line. The Tigers made 14 of 16 free throws in the second half to pull away from South Carolina. Point guard Jared Harper alone made 12 free throws in the final 20 minutes.
As Auburn gears up for its semifinal matchup against Florida on Saturday and later making a run in the Big Dance, don’t expect the strategy to change. The Tigers are going to keep living off the 3.
Jared finishes with 27 points and 6 assists