Pearl savoring return to SEC tournament

For three years Bruce Pearl was banished from the SEC tournament, at least as a coach. Now that he’s back, nobody can get him to go home. Auburn upset LSU 73-70 in overtime on Friday. That’s three wins in three days for the 13 seed Tigers. They’re still here Saturday to face Kentucky in the semifinals.

Pearl was last seen at the event in 2011 as Tennessee’s coach. He would be fired within a week. Pearl dropped a Tennessee reference Friday almost as soon as hit hit the podium for his postgame press conference. “This is reminiscent of my days at Tennessee,” he said. “All things were equal out there except we had No. 5 and you don’t. That’s Chris Lofton. Now all things are equal out there except we have No. 1 and you don’t.”

Number 1 is KT Harrell who scored 29 against LSU, including the 3-point shot to send the game to overtime. Pearl’s first season at Auburn is lasting longer than anyone thought. Pearl also dropped more references of his six years with the Vols. He mentioned UT’s win over Marquette (SEC/Big East Challenge) in Bridgestone Arena as well as a win over Oklahoma State here on a Dane Bradshaw tip-in: “Bridgestone has been good to me, better than I deserve. Those were great non-conference wins in this building for us. Now I’m just trying to get Auburn relevant.”

Now, Kentucky. “I told my team during the season we could beat any team in the league except Kentucky. I truly wanted them to think they could beat Ole Miss or Georgia.”