Auburn ended Saturday night with one more rebound than Oklahoma State (42-41), but the Tigers certainly could've used Cinmeon Bowers' presence. Despite his inconsistent play over the last several games, Bowers has remained Auburn's top rebounder all season with 9.1 rebounds per game. In his absence, Horace Spencer got the start and ended the night with only 6 points, but 11 rebounds. Tyler Harris earned 11 boards himself and 16 points, while Kareem Canty got 8 and led the scoring with 21 points.
With the loss to Oklahoma State behind them, the Auburn Tigers (9-11, 3-5 SEC) have a chance to upset the LSU Tigers (13-8, 6-2 SEC) at home tonight. Fortunately, Bruce Pearl has confirmed that Cinmeon will be available tonight after being suspended for conduct detrimental to the team. Auburn will need him to find the same fire he experienced against Alabama in January if the Tigers expect to have a chance against LSU and one of the most dynamic players in college basketball in Ben Simmons.
Kareem Canty is averaging 18.5 points per game for Auburn, and once again the success of the Tigers will likely depend on his ability to find the hot hand early from behind the arc. Tyler Harris had a great performance Saturday night against Oklahoma State, so hopefully he will continue to contribute in the paint. He went 0-4 in three point shooting on Saturday night, though, which has to improve if he hopes to support Canty's efforts.
Jordon Granger continues to get solid playing time due to a thin roster, and he has posted fairly consistent lines so far this season. On Saturday night, he went 2-3 in three point shooting and grabbed 3 boards. If Granger gets the ball in his favorite corner, he's likely to score a three, so depending on how TJ Lang and Bryce Brown continue to improve, it'll be good to see Granger get more playing time and earn more chances to score points.
For LSU, it's no secret—Ben Simmons is one of the most dynamic players in college basketball. Auburn has faced players like Simmons and teams like this one from LSU before, but the challenge remains to contain him in the paint without fouling and to keep him in check behind the three point line without leaving another LSU player open in a double-team situation. Simmons is a stat machine this season and leads LSU in scoring (19.5 points per game) and rebounding (12.5). He's also a highlight machine—this reverse dunk against Oklahoma speaks to that aspect pretty clearly:
ICYMI: Ben Simmons may want to add this insane reverse dunk to his highlight reel. https://t.co/9bFq58M88e— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) January 31, 2016
Obviously, Simmons isn't LSU's only weapon, and Auburn will be pretty familiar with two of LSU's other starters—junior guard Tim Quarterman and senior guard Keith Hornsby. Quarterman is averaging 11.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, while Hornsby has scored in double figures in 9 out of 14 games this season (he put up 32 against Houston in a losing effort for LSU). LSU also has a slight edge in free throw shooting over Auburn, so it will be critical for the Tigers in orange and blue to avoid early foul trouble when it comes to shutting down Simmons and his supporting cast.
It's another chance for Auburn to surprise the basketball world, and it'll be in front of a home crowd. Members of The Jungle, Auburn Basketball's rowdy student section, have issued a challenge down the stretch to overcome some quieter showings as of late:
The Jungle has gotten a lot or praise, but we need to work on a lot. We're also having to make up for some of the quietest paying fans.— Jacob Varner (@jacobvarner14) January 31, 2016
There are pockets of really energetic fans, but still a TON of people that just stand there.— Jacob Varner (@jacobvarner14) January 31, 2016
Students are also encouraged to, well, you know:
Tomorrow night.— Auburn Jungle (@AUJungle) February 1, 2016
You know what to do. pic.twitter.com/bIlqLgbLkx
Get to the Arena early, be loud, and pull our Tigers through. I'll be in attendance tonight, so I hope to see some of y'all there. War Damn Eagle.
How to Watch:
Auburn vs. LSU
When: 6:00 PM CT
Watch: SEC Network
Listen: Auburn IMG Network
Radio Affiliates: 100.5 FM (Birmingham), 94.3 FM (Auburn), 1230 AM (Huntsville), 106.5 FM (Mobile), 92.3 FM (Montgomery)