AuburnSports - BMatt’s Monday musings
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BMatt’s Monday musings

AUBURN | Did anybody really doubt Bruce Pearl or believe Auburn should just pack it in for the final three games of the season.

We’re talking about one of the best coaches in any sport in school history and a team loaded with young talent.

Sure, most of February had been a slog as Pearl dealt with injuries and cajoled his players to up their defensive acumen and intensity. But all those failures, that vital experience, is starting to show.

Pearl has beaten Tennessee, his former school, six consecutive times.
Pearl has beaten Tennessee, his former school, six consecutive times. (Shanna Lockwood/Auburn athletics)

In its 77-72 win over Tennessee, the Tigers held the Vols to the fewest points of any opponent since beating Vanderbilt 73-67, AU’s only other win last month.

Auburn won the turnover battle, the rebounding battle and out-scored UT in the second half — all problem areas. That’s real improvement and it’s another win for Pearl over a Top 25 team.

And Pearl did it without his top two point guards and a tactical change that moved Jamal Johnson to the point and allowed Allen Flanigan to flourish at his more natural wing position. He finished with 23 points on 50 percent shooting, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and just two turnovers in 36 minutes.

Starting at point guard against Florida Tuesday, Flanigan had six points and seven turnovers.

Johnson was equally efficient against UT with 14 points on 3 of 5 shooting, three rebounds, three assists, two steals and just one turnover in 31 minutes.

Players and teams making improvements, smart tactical changes — that’s just Pearl being Pearl, again. Doubt this man at your own peril.

***

Auburn softball is on its way back.

It’s not that it’s been bad the last couple of years. More rebuilding after the program was devastated by a scandal and the resignation of Clint Myers in 2017.

In Mickey Dean’s first three seasons, AU had a 21-29 conference record. Not bad but certainly not to the level of two consecutive College World Series appearances and hosting an NCAA Super Regional in the last three seasons under the Myers regime.

In many ways, Dean has had to build the program back from the ground up due to defections from the team and recruiting classes following the coaching change. Softball recruiting often starts and ends with prospects in the ninth or 10th grade. Maddie Penta, for example, was called by Dean shortly after he was hired at Auburn in September of 2017, visited once and chose AU over 30 other offers.

She is 5-0 with an 0.85 ERA and 49 strikeouts in her first five starts as a true freshman.

The work Dean and his staff put in three or more years ago is just now paying off. The 2020 class was ranked as high as No. 2 by one publication and Dean signed another highly-touted class in November including four signees ranked among the nation’s top 20 overall players.

Jay Jacobs had a mixed 13 years as Auburn’s athletic director, but his hire of Dean from James Madison just a couple of months before announcing his departure deserves praise.

It took a little time, but AU is off to a 10-1 start with better times on the horizon.

***

In today’s musical journey we go back 12 years to the rise of the best-selling song of a hip hop artist that featured an uncredited and then-unknown female hip hop artists who has gone on to a standout career of her own. On Feb. 28, 2009, Flo Rida’s Right Round hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first of a six-week run. The song, which has more than 12 million downloads, features Kesha Rose Sebert singing the chorus. Sebert, known as Ke$ha has gone on to produce two No. 1 albums and 10 top 10 hits over the last 11 years. She’s earned over $35 million in record sales and downloads.

Kesha was born in Los Angles in 1987 to a single mother, Pebe Sebert, a singer/song-writer best known for co-writing Dolly Parton’s 1978 single Ole Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You. Pebe often brought Kesha and her brother to work and noticed her singing ability at an early age. The family moved to Nashville where she attended high school and nearly made a perfect score on the SAT but dropped out to pursue a music career. She returned to Los Angeles and signed with Kemosabe Records at age 18. She worked as a waitress as she struggled for a first big break and started writing her name as Ke$ha as an ironic gesture due to her indifference to money. She’s survived bulimia and a long legal fight with Dr. Luke to produce four records and co-wrote hits for Britney Spears, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Miranda Cosgrove.

Her break came accidentally when she just happened to be in the studio when Flo Rida was recording Right Round and decided it needed a female voice. She is not credited and didn’t receive any money for her part in the song. Flo Rida asked Kesha to be in his video but she declined saying that she wanted to make it on her own terms. The song samples Dead or Alive’s 1985 song You Spin Me Round (Like a Record). It was written by Flo Rida, Dr. Luke, Kool Kojak, DJ Frank E, Phillip Lawrence and Bruno Mars. While the lyrics discuss a woman performing a striptease, Flo Rida explains the song is about a young lady that has his head spinning around when he first sees her.