AUBURN — Following a disappointing loss to the Yale Bulldogs in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Auburn Tigers' 2023-2024 season came to an abrupt end.

Despite the unexpected finish, it was a season to remember for Auburn. The Tigers won 27 games and captured their second SEC Tournament Championship under head coach Bruce Pearl.

Pearl addressed the media to give his final thoughts on Auburn's campaign and discussed what could be different next season.

"We still feel the sting and pain of not performing well enough in the postseason to advance. We know that 67 teams are going to lose before they want to. I've been on the other side of that upset and that's what March Madness is all about."

Pearl gave his thoughts on Chad Baker-Mazara having to exit the game after only three minutes of play due to a flagrant two foul call.

"I thought that the flagrant two could have been a flagrant one," Pearl said. "I don't think a whole lot of people would have commented on it. Could it have been a flagrant two, yes it could have been... I knew right there we were in trouble because they had one great defender and we thought that they would put that defender on Chad (Baker-Mazara) and therefore our point guards would have some freedom to do a few more things."

Pearl also addressed the negative attention Baker-Mazara has received because of the incident.

"If somebody was messing with your son, you got to stand up for your son," Pearl said. "Stop messing with my son. Stop it. He apologized, he made a mistake. I'm calling you out. I'm not having it."

Pearl talked about immediately hitting the grind of navigating the transfer portal as soon as the team returned from Spokane, Wash.

"There's no advantage of being 64 years old and having done this since 1978, it's completely different," Pearl said. "We got home Saturday morning at 4:30, my staff and I were in the office at 10:00. We worked Saturday and Sunday evaluating what's in the portal and what we thought might be coming in the portal."

Pearl talked about the departure of guard K.D. Johnson, who entered the transfer portal after the conclusion of his third season as a Tiger.

"Coming off the bench, not being able to play as freely as he would have liked to play, there are only so many minutes and so many opportunities," Pearl said on some of the things that went into Johnson's decision. "We just talked about the joy of the game being more of he was someplace else."

Pearl talked about adding 5-star point guard Tahaad Pettiford, the fifth-highest-ranked recruit in the program's history, to next season's team.

"Everybody assumed Tahaad (Pettiford) was going to come in and be our point guard, he's not. Tahaad (Pettiford) is a scorer," Pearl said. "He is an incredible athlete, he can make plays on both ends of the floor. He's gonna be one of the fastest, quickest, most explosive little guards I've ever had."

Pearl talked about the possibility of star forward Johni Broome returning next season.

"Sure, absolutely," Pearl said on Broome's return being a possibility. "It's one of his options, to come back."

Now that the final game has been played, Pearl and company will do everything they can to put the team in the best possible position to succeed when the 2024-2025 season comes around.

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