Auburn shot just 29% from the field in a disappointing loss to Oklahoma State in the Big 12/SEC challenge. Kareem Canty and Tyler Harris led Auburn with 21 and 16 points, but the two of them also combined to shoot 1 of 14 from behind the arc. Auburn was able to cut the lead to 5 points or less several times, but the Cowboys were able to keep them at arm's length for the entire game.
Just moments before the game, we learned that Cinmeon Bowers was suspended for the game for "conduct detrimental to the team". It almost certainly had to be for something in the second half of the Ole Miss game. The loss of Bowers put Auburn behind the 8-ball before the game even started. Oklahoma State isn't a particularly big team, but all Auburn had was Tyler Harris and Horace Spencer. Harris had his worst game in an Auburn uniform, and Spencer is a freshman. It was a move that Bruce Pearl had to make for this team in the long run, but it certainly hurt them in the short run.
The Cowboys led for all of the first half that I was able to see (Georgia and Baylor ran long). Oklahoma State started out red-hot, but Auburn was able to hit a few threes to cut the Cowboy lead to 2 with a few minutes left in the first half. However, a dubious foul on a 3 point shot allowed Oklahoma State to push the lead to nine at the break. Auburn shot 3 for 17 from 2 in the first half. Making 6 threes is all that kept them in the game. They didn't just miss a ton of mid-range jumpers. They missed bunnies. Layups. Gimmes. If you watched on TV, you missed one of the them while watching the end of Georgia-Baylor. I've never seen anything like it. How Auburn was only down 9, I'll never know.
In the second half, Auburn's did the opposite. They attempted 12 shots from long range, and none of them fell. Auburn's offense devolved into Canty trying to take the ball to the hoop on every single possession. When the Cowboys got a bit cold, he was able to cut the lead to 5, but OSU eventually closed the game out for a comfortable victory. It was their first road win of the season. Auburn finished with a 29/21/68 shooting line. There just aren't many ways to win a basketball game with those numbers. It's honestly a bit remarkable that Auburn kept it as close as they did.
What We Learned
- Kareem Canty is a tough SOB, but he can't do it alone. Canty wound up ball-hogging a bit in the second half, but he was really the only Tiger that could score. He went crashing into the lane, scoring or getting to the line more often than not. It cut the Cowboy lead to 5, but Auburn couldn't come any closer.
- Auburn missed Bowers, but they also miss TJ Dunans. Dunans has the size and quickness to defend almost any player. Oklahoma State used cuts and drives to kill Auburn in the second half. There was no way they were going to continue their hot 3-point shooting from the first half, but the Cowboys just started cutting to the basket without impunity and kept Auburn from getting close.
- Tyler Harris is a big part of Auburn's success. We may have known that already, but a game in which Harris shot just 4 of 13 from the field, it was painfully obvious. A good game from Harris could have won this one for Auburn. Unfortunately, he had an off night when Auburn didn't have anyone to help him.