5 players Auburn doesn’t want to see in the SEC Tournament

Bruce Pearl's team is good enough to win the 2024 SEC Tournament, but these five players, who are on contending teams, could spoil the party for the Tigers. Why Mark Sears, Antonio Reeves, and other scoring guards are Auburn's worst nightmare in March.

Alabama Crimson Tide guard Mark Sears (1)
Alabama Crimson Tide guard Mark Sears (1) / Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Antonio Reeves. . . 528. Antonio Reeves. Senior. 3. SG. Antonio Reeves. player

Reeves is a much more experienced, savvy, and efficient version of Johnson. When these two teams met on February 17, Reeves, not Kentucky’s freshmen guards, took over the game. For all the attention Rob Dillingham and Reed Sheppard get, Reeves is still John Calipari’s leading scorer and in the Wildcats’ 70-59 win over Auburn he finished with 22 points on 8-20 shooting. 

It was not an efficient day for Reeves in that one, but when a game ends with a total under 130, it’s hard to expect that anybody shot the ball well. The game turned into a slog, not Kentucky’s typical up-and-down pace or even Auburn’s up-tempo turnover-heavy transition style. 

There were moments of transition excellence, but more than the pace, the low score was a product of poor shooting. Kentucky shot 44.4% from the field while Auburn finished 17-55 (30.9%). Reeves bailed Cal's team out of possessions with his shot-making while K.D. Johnson tried to match and left Pearl completely exasperated with six points on 3-10 shooting. 

Adou Thiero also presented a lot of issues for Auburn defensively. His size and strength on the wing made him difficult for Baker-Mazara to deal with, but he was too quick for Broome, Williams, or Cardwell. Kentucky relied on multiple off-ball curl screen actions with Reeves and Thiero which helped the Wildcats close the game out.