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Auburn vs. Oregon State: Three Things We Learned

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The Tigers defeated the OSU Beavers 71-69 to take 3rd place in the MGM Grand Main Event.

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After a lackluster performance Monday night, Auburn played much better tonight against an Oregon State team that shares many similarities to the Tigers. Both teams suffer from lack of depth, and it showed in this consolation game. Auburn had two players with four fouls, and another with three, which really hindered strategy late in the closing seconds of a close game. Cinmeon Bowers, who's four game double-double streak ended, had 10 points, 8 rebounds, and four fouls. Bowers had to be continually subbed in and out during the final possessions to preserve his playing eligibility at the end of the game.

After leaving Vegas 1-1, here are three things we learned:

  • Lack of depth and fouls plaque this team. These are bundled together here because they go hand-in-hand. Auburn had a bad practice of racking up too many fouls early in the game last year. I believe the opposing team was in the bonus at the 16 minute mark at one point last year. That's unacceptable. This year's team has done better with that, but has still struggled with bad fouls. Jordon Granger had two fouls before four minutes clicked off the game clock. He earned a third before halftime. Only playing 10 players, eight of which are on scholarship, you just can't afford to rack up fouls, especially early on. Smarter play will come with time, though. The sooner the better if you ask me.
  • The defense struggles yet again. Bruce Pearl teams are built on an aggressive full court press. Yet teams have broken that pressure way too easily already, forcing Auburn to play rushed half court offense when they don't allow easy backdoor points. The defense hasn't been very good this weekend, and against two teams without a star player. Once Auburn hits conference play, they'll have troubles for days against the likes of Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee, to name a few. In my opinion, defense needs the most work over the next few weeks. Too many bad fouls and easy scores.
  • This team is streaky in terms of scoring. Hot shooting is contagious. As is cold shooting. KT Harrell struggled mightily Monday night, only mustering two lonely points, yet bounced back with 20 against Oregon State. Where the Tigers were just 2-23 from beyond the arc against Tulsa, they hit 7-17 3-pointers against the Beavers.  Monday night, nothing was falling. Everyone, except Bowers, missed their shots from all over the court. On the same court Wednesday night, the Tigers shot 53% from the field. It was obvious back in Colorado as against Tulsa that when this team gets down by too many, they begin to rush. Keep the score close, and this team may pull some wins out of the hat.
And give props to these players, especially those that don't score a whole lot. Malcolm Canada has been playing wonderfully the past few games. Tahj Shamsid-Deen has been a wonderful compliment to the big names and being able to score some himself. Freshman TJ Lang has grown a lot already in his first year on the Plains, and it'll be exciting to see where he goes during his Auburn career.

Auburn heads home to enjoy Thanksgiving tomorrow, then heads out next week to play Texas Tech on Wednesday, Dec 3rd, as part of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge. No worries, you won't have to watch the game on ESPN3 as the SEC Network carries the game at 8 PM Central. The following Saturday, Auburn welcomes back Cliff Ellis and his Coastal Carolina team at 8 PM on FSN.

Hope everyone has an enjoyable Thanksgiving and War Eagle!