March Madness

‘Own it’: How loss to Yale in NCAA Tournament still remains with Auburn basketball

'Own it': How loss to Yale in NCAA Tournament still remains with Auburn basketball

AUBURN — Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl hasn’t forgotten what it felt like.

Slotted as a No. 4 seed in this past NCAA Tournament, Pearl’s Tigers were upset by No. 13-seed Yale in the first round of March Madness, putting an end to an Auburn season that featured 26 games won by double digits and the third SEC Tournament title in program history.

Pearl, speaking Monday at his charity golf event at the Willow Point Golf and Country Club in Alexander City, brought up the loss unprompted.

“For us, defensively, we could be really, really good next year,” Pearl said of his team. “Older and tough and physical. We’ve just got to do a better job of guarding without fouling. We can’t foul Yale 25 times and expect to win in an NCAA Tournament game. By the way, I’m still stuck on that in case you haven’t noticed. I’ll be stuck on it all year long. We’ll be talking about Yale all fall. We’ve got to own it.”

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Auburn had a chance to tie or extend the game late, but some missed free throws and the inability to register a clutch bucket ultimately did the Tigers in.

Though clearly still bothered, Pearl also wanted to put the loss into perspective: “It’s just something we have to live with, something we have to own,” he said. “Something that’s going to stick in our craw. I will tell our fans this, realistically: We should have beaten Yale. We could have and perhaps should have maybe gotten San Diego State (in the second round). We would have liked to have gotten UConn (in the Sweet 16). I don’t know, keeping the Yale loss in perspective, it may have only meant two more wins.

“UConn was maybe one of the best teams, historically. They were a dominating, dominating champion. So it would have been hard to beat them in the Sweet 16. That’d have been a really tough matchup. So putting that in perspective, the Yale loss could have cost us a couple of wins and an opportunity to go play UConn. UConn was better than everybody, maybe by a long shot.”

Richard Silva is the Auburn athletics beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. He can be reached via email at rsilva@gannett.com or on X, formerly known as Twitter, @rich_silva18.

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Auburn basketball: NCAA Tournament loss to Yale still lingering

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