“They’re leaving a legacy,” Ray Harper said in postgame press conference

Photo courtesy of Thomas Ashworth

Thomas Ashworth, Sports Editor

Brotherhood, legacy and raising a banner were just a few of the things Ray Harper and company touched on in their postgame press conference.

“We did a good job taking care of the basketball, but we took some really tough shots,” Ray Harper said. “You’ve got to give Auburn a lot of credit. They’ve got a lot of size, length. They’re very physical, and a lot of times, especially in the first half, the shot clock was winding, winding, and they were forcing us into some tough shots. We didn’t get enough ball movement.”

In Auburn’s postgame press conference, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl had nothing but positive things to say about Jacksonville State and the job Ray Harper has done this season.

“I want to congratulate Jacksonville State and coach Ray Harper from the great state of Alabama for an outstanding season,” said Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl in their postgame press conference. “They’re extremely well coached. They were prepared, and you could see how dangerous a team they are because of the way they can shoot it.

Pearl also touched on his over 20-year old rivalry with Ray Harper that was restored on Friday afternoon.

“I’m sure the people back in Evansville, Indiana, and Owensboro, Kentucky, were tuned into that game, as they should,” Pearl said. “I have so much respect for Coach Harper. I’m very satisfied with the way we played.”

Ray Harper’s record against Bruce Pearl now sits at 13-4 after their matchup in the NCAA Tournament.

Jalen Gibbs, who finished his first season at Jacksonville State after transferring from Mount St. Mary’s, noted the brotherhood that this team has and how thankful he is for transferring.

“I didn’t know any of these guys before I came here,” Gibbs said. “We’re all brothers now, and I won’t forget any — I love each and every one of them. I’m just so happy I made the decision to come here. We had a really fun year.”

With Brandon Huffman, Darian Adams, Kayne Henry and Jalen Gibbs all just finishing up their senior season, Jacksonville State’s starting lineup will have a new look next season. Harper mentioned this team’s legacy and what it means for the next group he’ll be coaching at Jacksonville State.

“They’re leaving a legacy. That’s what you want when you go play somewhere. I’m going to hang a banner. They’ve asked, where’s their team picture going to be? And they’ve earned it,” Harper said. “So hopefully it will set the tone for the younger guys as we move forward. This is our third postseason in six years. We feel really proud about that.”

With their first season in the ASUN Conference under their belt, Ray Harper and company will now prepare for their second, and final, season in the ASUN before they make the move to Conference USA.

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