The Auburn men's basketball team has arrived in Salt Lake City and the team had their first practice out west Wednesday afternoon. The fifth seeded Tigers are getting ready to take on the New Mexico State Aggies who comes as the twelfth seed in the Midwest region.
This will be the Tigers fifth game in eight days after a quick turn around from the SEC tournament, plus they'll be playing about 3,500 ft. higher than they normally do back in the plains.
Head coach Bruce Pearl says New Mexico State would be his 5 and 12 upset pick if he wasn't playing against them and he knows this game will be a challenge for his team.
"New Mexico State if they were playing in the SEC they'd look like us they'd shoot the three ball they'd spread it they do a better job chasing down rebounds than we do they score early they score late they're active and engaged defensively they don't turn over they turn you over," Pearl said. "You know for us, unless we'd play against ourselves in practice and we usually don't play very well when we play ourselves, you know it'll be all we want."
Pearl says it's been a long week for his team and playing in the high altitude with tired bodies could definitely impact them, but they have to focus and get ready to play a challenging team.
"We had four games in four days, we got back Sunday night we gave them Monday off the go to class and we got together and watched a little film but no practicing, but Monday was a blur we left early Tuesday morning traveled out long trip and got some of the bus out of us last night," Pearl said. "Today was maybe the first day the kids might feel somewhat normal and we go at it tomorrow. If it was easy anybody could do it it's not easy, but I don't think it'll be just fatigue that'll get us it'll be a very good team we're playing against."
Auburn tips off against New Mexico State at 12:30 p.m. CT Thursday afternoon.