Despite losses so far at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, both Auburn and Syracuse hope the purpose of playing in the tournament to begin with will be served again when they play in the fifth-place game of the tournament Friday afternoon.
The Tigers and Orange came to the Bahamas with the primary objective of playing tough competition to better prepare them for the upcoming conference portion of the college basketball season, and that's exactly what has happened.
For Auburn, it is coming off a 62-53 win over Loyola (Chicago) in the consolation bracket on Thursday, which followed a two-overtime loss to Connecticut in the first round on Wednesday.
"It's getting me ready for more big games," said Auburn freshman Jabari Smith. "Every game in the SEC is going to be tough and challenging. Playing against stronger, tougher competition shows how together we are and I'm enjoying it."
The Tigers (4-1) survived any fatigue factor from the game against Connecticut by playing 10 guys at least 10 minutes and didn't play one player 30 minutes.
"The depth of our team allows us to play through fatigue," Auburn forward Walker Kessler said.
On the other side, Syracuse lost in the first round to VCU, 67-55, before rebounding to beat Arizona State in the second round, 92-84.
The Orange (3-2) are looking to leave the Bahamas with some momentum entering an ACC/Big Ten Challenge contest against Indiana on Tuesday.
The biggest difference between the VCU loss and the win over Arizona State was better perimeter shooting from the Orange.
Syracuse shot 5 of 23 from 3-point range against VCU and 29% overall, but against Arizona State, the Orange went 8 of 19 from 3-point range and 54.1% overall.
"One of the things we have to do is make threes," Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said after the VCU game. "We've got to make some of those shots if we are going to be successful."
--Field Level Media