For the second year in a row, Auburn faces Colorado in the second game of the college basketball season with a tipoff at an unorthodox time. Last year, Colorado destroyed Auburn 90-59 in a midnight tipoff game in Boulder. Auburn trailed by four at the half but the Buffs poured it on a short-handed Auburn team in the second half. Auburn went 1-15 from 3 in the second half. Colorado outrebounded Auburn by 15.
Colorado returns most of the big men who ruined Auburn's midnight a year ago. Josh Scott and Wesley Gordon who combined for 33 points and 21 boards against Auburn last year will try their luck against Auburn's renewed frontcourt. Colorado attempted to beef up their backcourt with a Providence transfer, Josh Fortune who started two years for the Friars before transferring to Colorado.
Like Auburn, Colorado was picked to finish near the bottom of their conference this season. Various outlets picked them between 7th and 9th in the PAC-12. Also like Auburn, the Buffalos don't intend to roll over and play dead. Colorado opened the season with a close loss against #7 Iowa State, losing 68-62. Scott led the way for Colorado with 11 points and 11 boards. Colorado was hampered by 18 turnovers, yet battled to the end and kept it close against a squad primed for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
PROJECTED STARTERS FOR COLORADO
C Josh Scott 6'10" 245 Monument, Colorado - started almost every game last year when he was healthy; the returning senior is near the top of Colorado's record books in rebounding and blocked shots; extremely intelligent ball player; he's also ambidextrous
PF Wesley Gordon 6'9" 220 from Colorado Springs - returning starter from last year's team; Gordon averaged 1.4 blocks per game and helps anchor the Buffs in the paint
SF Tre'Shaun Fletcher 6'7" 205 from Wilmar, Arkansas - started in half of Colorado's games last year; very long defender who presents an average offensive challenge; when he left for school the population of Wilmar dropped to 511
SG Josh Fortune 6'5" 200 from Hampton, VA - Junior transfer from Providence where he started 53 of 69 games; former teammate of Tyler Harris
PG Dominique Collier 6'2" 190 from Denver - the sophomore had ten starts last year; he's a good on ball defender and his offensive game is improving; he scored 13 points against Iowa State but was responsible for six turnovers against three assists
First impression - These guys are tall. They're really long and put good pressure on the ball. They lack an unstoppable offensive threat but look for them to feed Scott early and often after Auburn gave up 25 points to UAB's big man Friday night. Harris, Bowers, and Spencer will have to stand tall for Auburn to walk away with a win.
PROJECTED STARTERS AUBURN
C Tyler Harris
F Cinmeon Bowers
SF/Wing TJ Dunans
SG Bryce Brown (fresh off his one game suspension)
PG Kareem Canty
Auburn fans are understandably excited after the win over UAB. I left the Arena Friday night believing that I had seen a team that could make the NCAA Tournament. Auburn has more playmakers on this team than it has had on a team in fifteen years. While depth is an issue, Auburn should be able to play with almost every team on the schedule. Beating Colorado would be a huge step forward for our program and would reshape my expectations for the year going forward. If we beat the Buffs, Auburn would be favored to be 7-0 going into Xavier December 19.
Auburn is currently listed as a 1 point underdog. This seems consistent with the teams' KenPom/Sagarin ratings. Colorado is #67 KenPom and #60 Sagarin. Auburn is #157 KenPom and #95 Sagarin.
I like Auburn's chances. Auburn avenges itself of last year's loss 83-70.
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN STREAM
Time: 2 PM Central
Streaming: WatchESPN App
Audio: Auburn IMG Radio Network