Photo by Keyli Chisesi (Go Big Blue Country)
Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl wants fans to be respectful towards Kentucky assistant coach Tony Barbee when the former Tiger head coach travels to the Plains for the first time since being fired in 2014.
Barbee, who was the head coach at Auburn from 2010-2014, where the Tigers owned a 49-75 record overall, including an 18-50 mark in the SEC. Barbee’s .395 winning percentage is the lowest of any Auburn head coach who spent two seasons at the helm.
Barbee was on staff at Kentucky when the Wildcats lost at Auburn during the 2015-2016 season but he wasn’t at the game due to a recruiting trip. This time he will be there and Bruce Pearl wants Auburn fans to show respect.
“I would like to reach out to all of our fans and students in preparation of that [Tony Barbee coming to the game]. I know what it’s like. In coaching, for better or for worse, you give it your heart and soul. You give it everything you have. I think it would only be fitting with Auburn to be classy. He was our basketball coach for four years. He moved his family here and he was a part of this family. I would rather it be us welcoming him and his family back to where they were for four years. There should be nothing else. I would even ask the Jungle and the leadership, and I might just tweet this out, that nothing else would be appropriate. I want great spirit and attitude. I want to get after Kentucky really hard, but that other stuff I would be disappointed with that.”
Pearl’s message should be heard loud and clear, as the program has benefited from a change in leadership. The last time Auburn and Kentucky played on the Plains, the Tigers left with a 75-70 win, their first over Kentucky since 2000.
Kentucky and Auburn will tip at 9 p.m. ET. with coverage on ESPN 2. Kentucky will be searching for a must win after losing their last three games. The last time the Wildcats had a four game losing streak was late in the 2009 season under former head coach Billy Gillispie.