Auburn enters conference play in basketball with an impressive 10-2 record boasting wins over Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and UConn among others. In terms of RPI, those aren't the greatest wins at the moment, but that could change as the season progresses.
Georgia, meanwhile, doesn't exactly have any marquee wins to point to in their 8-4 non-conference schedule. Their loss to Oakland isn't quite as bad as Auburn's loss to Boston College, but it's still not a good look. They did play respectably against Kansas (better than Auburn did against Purdue) in their lone game against a ranked team.
For all that, Rock M Nation - the SB Nation Mizzou Blog that also features some of the best basketball writers in the conference - puts them one spot ahead of the Tigers for how SEC teams fared in conference play.
Georgia is led by forward Yante Maten. Maten, a 6'8 240 lbs Junior, is putting up some ridiculous numbers this season. He's averaging 19.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Senior guard JJ Frazier is next on the team with 15.1ppg. Those are the only Bulldogs averaging in the double-digits. Frazier should present an interesting challenge for Auburn freshman Jared Harper as a seasoned SEC veteran.
Auburn is, of course, still led in scoring by three of its freshmen. Danjel Purifoy's points per game have dropped after some tough scoring outings, but Purifoy has made up for it with impressive play in other areas like rebounding. Mustapha Heron continues to be the machine that he is, and Harper improves a little more with every game.
Austin Wiley - the 4th freshman in the starting lineup - is still learning the offense, but has provided an impressive 7.3 points per game in his three appearances. We'd like to see his rebound numbers go up, but that will come. He has already added another dimension to the Tigers' game.
For all of the play of the freshman, Auburn's overall play seems to hinge upon the play of senior TJ Dunans. The loss to Boston College was without Dunans. When Dunans is playing poorly, Auburn struggles. When he's on his game, though, then the other players around him shine even brighter and the Tigers are able to get things flowing.
The good news for Auburn in this one is also that Bryce Brown will be available for the first time in a few weeks. He wasn't playing to his 2015-16 levels before his suspension, but hopefully the time off has allowed him to get his game back on track. A hot-shooting Brown makes this team even more dangerous.
They'll need everyone playing at a high level tonight in what should be a sold out and loud Auburn Arena. The home court advantage will hopefully get the Tigers amped up after a few road trips and big road victories. They're one game away from equaling last year's win total and can get that done in the first game of conference play. Getting conference play off right with a big home win could help catapult them through the rest of the season. A loss, though, could derail much of the momentum they've built.
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