Auburn's Bruce Pearl explains heated exchange after loss to Alabama

Feb 17 2018 Lexington KY USA Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari reacts in the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Alabama 81-71. Mandatory Credit Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

And in the second half, the offense took over.

After dominating Auburn, coach Avery Johnson made a passionate argument about why his team belongs in the tournament.

"I want the team right now to understand that there's as good a chance, no matter what, if we can advance past the first one, there's a pretty good chance that the second one may not be the higher seed or the better seed", noted Pearl, "It's a tough draw because there's so many upsets". If you're looking for a team that has an impressive resume, we feel we're one of those teams.

Pearl's team has now been bounced in its first SEC Tournament game for the third-straight season.

"I don't think we're on that bubble, baby!"

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Sexton, who beat Texas A&M with a last-second shot on Thursday and then led a second-half charge to beat Auburn on Friday, scored 21 points on 6-for-14 shooting.

"I've been a 12 before, and I've beaten the 5", he said of his wins over Alabama and Boston College in his past year at UW Milwaukee, "But the most interesting thing about the 5-12 matchups is anything can happen in those matchups".

Which makes it a risky team in the Big Dance.

Butler: The Bulldogs (20-13) pulled off a big victory over Seton Hall in the Big East quarterfinals but fell behind 19-0 at the outset against Villanova in the semifinals, couldn't recover, and lost 87-68. With Selection Sunday looming, the latest projections have Alabama as a No. 9 seed in the NCAA tournament - though that's fluctuated.

It's not Cat-lanta or Cats-ville, but the Wildcats are back in the final of another championship, their fifth straight appearance in the title game. Buffalo's win Friday in the Mid-American Conference semifinals likely will give the Orange (43 RPI, No. 17 strength of schedule) their fourth Quadrant 1 win, but is that enough?

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