So let me begin by saying I'm a huge college basketball fan. I have always followed AU hoops, having been in school for the highs (Chris Porter era) and the lows (anytime after the Chris Porter era). Each week I'll be reviewing Auburn's SEC games and talking a little about the road ahead.
The Week that was
Auburn opened the 2015 SEC season in on of the toughest venues in college basketball. Vandy's memorial gymnasium is cavernous and weird. Auburn hasn't won there since 2000, and has still yet to win on the road this season. If we are being totally honest, Auburn won't win on the road this season if they open they game shooting like they did at Vanderbilt.
Too often in the first half, Auburn settled for jump shots and threes when taking the ball to the basket would have paid dividends. It's one of the major beefs I have with this team is its contentment to settle for outside shots rather than taking the ball to the goal and drawing contact. Harrell in particular has been guilty of that too often this year. I'd like to see more from the guards taking the ball to the hole and dishing to big guys, especially early in the game.
Auburn also did a poor job defensively against the motion and set plays of Vanderbilt in the first half as Vandy got way to many easy buckets and open looks.
Quite frankly, I was anticipating a blowout after halftime, but the blowout never came.
This undersized, undermanned team has some stones. They play hard till the final horn, and they are no pushover. If not for an iffy (and I'm being nice when I say 'iffy' ) charge call on K.T. that that would've cut the Commodore lead to two, Auburn might have been able to sneak out of Nashville with a win. But give Vandy credit, they are tough at home and always will be in the "purgatory they call a gym.'**
Back in the friendly confines of the Auburn arena, the Tigers fared much better, jumping out to an early lead on Missouri, then giving the lead away in the early minutes of the second half, then taking the momentum back and walking away with a six point victory.
Let me say I love how hard Cimmeon Bowers plays the game. Rebounding is 75% heart, and he is the best I've seen in college hoops this year. Now, do I take issue with a point forward trying to start the break? Yes. Doest he take ill advised jumpers? Sure.
But Bowers is a hard working, quality SEC forward in this league.
I like what Pearl had to say about wanting Cim to be more of a forward than a center. If that's the case I would like to see Bowers on the floor at the same time as Trayvon Reed. Reed is a true center and does some really nice things as a freshman. I say stick him in there and let him get some on the job experience. I can't do anything but help, especially on defense.
Thursday- at Florida (9-6)...The Gators had a somewhat disappointing non-conference season, with a couple of head scratching losses, but have bounced back well with a tough road win at South Carolina and a home blowout win vs 2015's SEC doormat, Mississippi State. Billy Donovan is one of the best in the business, but he is currently in the midst of a patchwork season with a handful of freshmen and transfer students. The gators are beatable, but it will be a tough test for AU to get out of Gainsville with a victory, given the Tigers shooting woes outside of the friendly confines of the Arena.
Saturday-South Carolina (9-5)- The Gamecocks are better this year under crazy drill sergeant Frank Martin. The Gamecocks had an impressive win over Iowa State, but have limped out of the gate in the SEC season. They play at home vs Bama on Tuesday before coming to our place, so the Gamecocks could unravel pretty quickly with a bad week two.
So i would give Auburn an even money chance of winning both of these games this week, but the Tigers will need to shoot the ball much better in order for that to happen. I still say this team has the players to make it to the postseason. It may not be always be pretty, but given the state of Auburn hoops the last several years, it is a huge improvement.
**Can anyone tell me what movie that line is from?