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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Auburn says goodbye to Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum

It's the final regular season game at the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum tonight. Here's how my story in today's paper starts:

AUBURN, Ala. — The $92.5 million palace across the street is nearly complete, just a few months away from officially becoming Auburn’s new home for basketball.

But former Tigers women’s coach Joe Ciampi never has set foot in the Auburn Arena, not even to take a peek. He is partial to Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum, which, after 42 seasons, will host its final regular-season basketball game tonight, when the Auburn men take on Mississippi State at 8 p.m.

“With all the memories in here … this place is special,” said Ciampi, who compiled an arena-record 294 wins during his career. “This is home.”

It will be a bittersweet night for many Auburn fans, who will say goodbye to an arena that has played host to nearly 900 basketball games in addition to numerous wrestling, track and gymnastics meets.

Read the full story here. And follow the blog on Twitter.

In all the Beard-Eaves hubbub, the game itself has been somewhat overshadowed. Here are some things to know:
  • Auburn (14-15, 5-9 SEC) has won four straight at home. The Tigers would like to end the arena on a high note. "I think it kind of brings a little bit of added pressure to our team to play well and try to end it the right way," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. "We haven't really talked about that. For me personally, it just kind of gives a little different feeling to the game. You want to send out the building in a right way with a 'W.' There is a lot of history and a lot of great memories of playing in this place. There are a lot of great coaches and former players that have played in the building who have a lot of fond memories. They have spent a lot of time, not only games, but practicing in this building. We certainly want to send it out the right way."
  • Mississippi State (21-8, 9-5 SEC) leads the Western Division and has a chance to be one of the final few teams to sneak in to the NCAA tournament. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi has the Bulldogs as the third-to-last team in the tournament as a No. 13 seed in his latest projections.
  • MSU beat Auburn 85-75 in overtime in Starkville, Miss., on Feb. 13. The Bulldogs outscored the Tigers 11-1 in overtime.
  • Guard Frankie Sullivan (concussion) was questionable for the game as of Monday. Lebo said the team was going to see how much he could do in practice before making any decisions about whether or not he'll play. If he can't go, expect freshman Earnest Ross to start in his place.
  • Tay Waller has averaged 28.0 points in the last three games, going 21-for-31 from 3-point range.
  • Five seniors -- DeWayne Reed, Lucas Hargrove, Waller, Johnnie Lett and Brendon Knox -- will be honored before the game. "That is something that has kind of got shoveled underneath with the last game in the Coliseum," Lebo said. "It is Senior Night. We have a lot of seniors. A lot of guys who put forth a lot of time and effort in this program. Two of those guys (Reed and Hargrove) have been with me for four years, and we are excited about them both getting their degree this semester. Again with the last game and Senior Night, it gives a lot of added pressure to the game for everybody."

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