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SEC Tipoff Blog: Auburn embraces 'underdog' role

344 days ago
Kevin Scarbinsky
Photo: Jimmie Mitchell/SEC

Welcome to the SEC Basketball Media Days Blog, your online home for the big news, behind-the-scenes notes and quotes and special moments that make this annual event, held this year in Birmingham, Ala., the unofficial start of college basketball season. Check back for updates each day throughout the week.

Honesty Scott-Grayson knows what you're thinking. You're thinking Johnnie Harris, heading into her second season as head coach, hasn't had enough time to turn Auburn into a contender.

"I look at us as underdogs," said Scott-Grayson, the senior guard who finished second on the team last year in scoring and rebounding. "Everybody probably has us low on the totem pole."

True. The SEC preseason poll ranks the Tigers No. 13 in the league, ahead of only Vanderbilt. Scott-Grayson has a message for the doubters.

"You guys are in for something very exciting and very special," she said.

The Tigers gave everyone a sneak peek of what exciting and special looks like last season. They beat three ranked teams, highlighted by a 71-61 home victory over No. 4 Tennessee. The Lady Vols entered the game 18-1 overall and 7-0 in the SEC. Auburn was 8-10 and 0-7.

It didn't matter as Aicha Coulibaly, Auburn's leading scorer and rebounder for the season, led the way with 26 points.

That game, Scott-Grayson said, "meant everything to me. Everybody thought we would lose that game, but we went in with a lot of confidence. It was a great experience for all of us."

A year later, the Tigers are "bigger, faster and stronger" according to Harris. Outsiders may not see her team as a contender, and she acknowledges her roster is still young overall, but Auburn fans have given the program a vote of confidence. They've bought more season tickets than ever before.

"I believe that atmosphere will help us get over the top," Harris said.

The players sound ready to deliver more memorable moments. Coulibaly echoed Scott-Grayson's confidence, saying the Tigers will "shock the world" this season.

"We're going to win games people don't expect us to win," Coulibaly said. "That's what I mean by shock the world."