Center Rob Chubb left his basketball shoes at home, no small blunder considering his size 16 feet were too big to simply find new sneakers at a local sporting goods store. The size 14s Chubb borrowed from a teammate for shootaround were so cramped and uncomfortable that he worried he wouldn't be able to be effective in the game.
"My toes were curled up, I was tripping over myself," Chubb told the Opelika-Auburn News. "It was going to be an interesting game if these shoes didn't come through."
To Chubb's rescue came a South Carolina team manager kind enough to allow him to borrow a pair of his customary size 16 shoes. Chubb then proved the adage that no good deed goes unpunished, scoring a career-high 18 points on 8-of-17 shooting to lead Auburn to a stunning 79-64 victory over the Gamecocks.
"If I had known he didn't bring his shoes before that game, he wouldn't have started," Auburn coach Tony Barbee said on a teleconference on Monday. "I might not have played him. My assistant coaches did a good job of keeping that away from me."
It's a good thing for Auburn that Barbee didn't sit Chubb because Auburn desperately needed this victory. Many thought the Tigers were the worst major-conference team in college basketball this season after they lost to the likes of Samford, Campbell and Presbyterian in nonleague play and started 0-6 in the SEC.
After playing sparingly as a freshman last season, Chubb has shown promise as a sophomore, averaging 8.1 points and 4.1 boards in 22 minutes per game. Still, the 18-point outing against South Carolina was the first time he exceeded 10 points in SEC play.
"They left Rob down there 1-on-1 with very little help," Barbee said. "Rob is a developing player, his confidence is growing and he has the skill that if you leave him 1-on-1, he's good enough to beat you."