On first glance, you look at that headline and you scratch your head. Auburn had to go to overtime against a Div II school? That sounds sad.
It's not exactly something that gives you a lot of confidence going into the first game of the regular season next Friday night against UAB, that's for sure. However, there are some hidden stories behind those stats.
I attempted to score this game for Auburn as best I could. I've never attempted that before. I can only tell you points and fouls, for the most part. Thankfully the official site has us covered with the full stats.
Take a look at Indianapolis' #30. 8-13 from beyond the arc. Their team as a whole was 14-35 from beyond the arc. That's a big reason why their score was as high as it was. #30 was impressive. I'm honestly surprised he has five misses, it seems like he only missed 1-2. In free throws, they were 33-38, and three of those misses were in overtime when it mattered most.
For Auburn, free throws also tell the story. The Tigers were 34-52. That's 18 (EIGHTEEN) points left on the court. Cinmeon Bowers was 3-13 on the night. However, he hit two of them when it counted the absolute most late in the second half, and Auburn Arena went nuts for him.
Shot Blocking. We may have some shot blockers on this team. In particular Horace Spencer impressed me with his play. He finished with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds on top of two monster blocks and another good one to grow on.
Rebounding. Last year, if it wasn't Bowers, it really wasn't anyone. And offensive rebounds? They were few and far between. In tonight's game, 9 Tigers show up in the rebounding column. There were 10 offensive rebounds total and 25 defensive rebounds. Only 8 of those rebounds belonged to Bowers. That's improvement that we drastically needed, and it was great to see it, tonight.
Spreading Out The Scoring. How many times last season did you see more than Mason and Harrell end up in the double-digits of scoring? It had to have happened a fair bit, but if others did get in double-digits, it wasn't by much. Tonight, there were 5 Tigers in double-digits. The lowest of those 5 had 14 points. It's nice to see a lot of scoring and to see that scoring spread out. Kareem Canty led the way with his 24 points, Harris right behind with 20, then Spencer and Bowers tallied 17 apiece.
Tyler Harris. Harris may be the biggest addition to this team that I could see, tonight. He finished the game with 20 total points. 14 on field goals and 6 on free throws. He also was in foul trouble early with 4 fouls around the 10 minute mark in the 2nd half, and he fouled out before the game ended, but he was a force when he was on the court.
Kareem Canty. It took Canty a little while to get going from the floor, but he looked great in the second half. He's also clearly the person we want to get the ball to when it comes to getting fouled. He was 13-13 on his free throws. I'll take that any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Free Throws. Outside of Bowers, the team didn't do too horrible. 8 missed free throws for the team, 10 for him. We're desperately going to need Cinmeon to get better at that. I hope tonight was just jitters, because teams are going to look to foul him a lot late in the game. Indianapolis made a great decision to foul him late when he came away with a big steal. Fortunately for Auburn, that instance is when he drained his two in a row.
Sloppy Play. It's still there. The Tigers still need to clean some things up. They need to take clear shots and not get cute.
The Refs. The refs tonight were obsessed with blowing their whistles, and they did it for quite a few things that were very questionable as fouls. That's particularly true late in the game. It really could have swung things the other way. Of course, Auburn shouldn't have let themselves be in a position to let the game be swayed by the refs against a Division II school, too.
The Tigers begin the regular season next Friday night in Auburn Arena against UAB, a tournament darling from last season. War Eagle!