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Auburn 82, North Alabama 61: Three Thing We Learned

How Was It So Close for So Long? Seriously, I'm Asking Because I Have No Idea.

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

When Auburn’s good they are very, very good, but when they are bad they are horrid. Auburn opened slow against North Alabama before taking over late in the second half winning 82-61. North Alabama was well-coached and well-rested but this is a team with losses to Saint Leo, Lee, and Truman State. Auburn should have beaten this team by 30 or more and yet UNA was within 10 late in the second half. It should not have been this close this late.

The Big 3 did well, especially in the second half.  Bowers finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds.  KT had 27 points and Mason added 18 more.  But top to bottom this was not Auburn's best performance.

What did we learn today?

1) Auburn as a team doesn’t rebound well. Rebounding accomplished both strategically and technically. Technical rebounding is a question of getting in position, getting square with the goal, blocking out the opposition, and timing your jump. Trayvon Reed and Cinmeon Bowers do this well for us. Strategic rebounding has to do with knowing your place in the offense. When the shot goes up, at least one offensive player should be tasked with crashing the board to look for a second chance shot. UNA got a ton of second chance shots today because when the shot went up, one of their players would crash the basket and get a chance at a tip in. Auburn has to be better (1) doing this on offense and (2) accounting for it on defense. Fortunately we had enough talent to win anyway.

2) Auburn looked tired again. Bruce did a good job of rotating the players in and out to keep them rested for the start of SEC play but from the get-go the team looked tired. The passes were sloppy, there were too many turnovers, and the players lacked the bounce in their step that we’ve come to expect. Three minutes in, Antoine Mason looked like he had a game’s worth of sweat on him. Eventually, our talent and depth wore UNA down. Auburn had better work this out before they travel to Nashville.

3) Auburn has done what it needed to with its nonconference schedule. Auburn came out of an extremely challenging nonconference schedule 8-5. With Antoine Mason, we’re 6-1. Cinmeon Bowers is as god as advertised with eight double doubles in thirteen games.

Here are some highlights from today's action:

KT Harrell sinks a 3 on his way to 25 points.

Trayvon Reed with an alley oop.

Now comes conference play which will be the real test for this team. Auburn’s estimated RPI is around 93 according to ESPN. It will improve if we take care of business in conference. We need 10-11 wins (including the conference tournament) for a shot at the NIT. We’ll need at least 12 wins and a decent run in the conference tournament for a chance at the NCAA tournament.

Auburn opens up against a 9-3 Vandy team in their unholy t shaped Memorial Gym. Auburn has a lot of fans in Nashville. If you live in that area, please try to attend and support the Tigers. Let’s send a message to the SEC that Auburn is back and cares about basketball.