Today is a day of opportunity.
The last time Auburn played Ole Miss, it was at the new Pavilion in Oxford, and the Rebels won 80-63. It was a game that saw Kareem Canty—now no longer with the team—score only 8 points. It was two games after a home win against Alabama and one game after losing at Florida in pretty bad fashion, so it should've been a chance to bounce back. Despite Tyler Harris (16 points) and TJ Lang (19 points) picking up the slack, it was a game that got away from the Tigers after going into halftime leading by one.
Auburn (10-15, 4-9 SEC) hosts Ole Miss (16-10, 6-7 SEC) at the Arena this afternoon for a chance to even the series, and it might be the Tigers' best chance to do it. On Wednesday, Auburn earned its first true road win of the season at Arkansas 90-86 behind Bryce Brown's record-setting 9 three pointers for 27 points. It was also a good game for Cinmeon Bowers, who has been forced to step up to the point guard position in Kareem Canty's absence. The big man scored 14 points and picked up 10 boards. Tyler Harris also got out of his late-season slump with 19 points and 5 rebounds. For a team that had lost seven conference games in a row, the win was a night-and-day difference and a much-needed boost in morale as the season winds down.
Bruce Pearl will be looking to repeat the same team chemistry to get one back from the Rebels today, but it will be no easy task. Bald-headed Andy Kennedy's Ole Miss squad has gone 4-4 in its last 8 games, but senior guard Stefan Moody is now the league's top scorer with 22.8 points per game. The Rebels also have junior forward Sebastian Saiz back from an eye injury that kept him sidelined for part of the season. Horace Spencer will likely find himself matched up against the 6'9" Spaniard under the basket, so it'll be crucial for him to avoid early foul trouble. Let's hope Spencer can turn out the same performance he had against Arkansas—specifically the seven blocks.
The key for Auburn will be putting together a complete game. The Tigers let Stefan Moody find open shots in Oxford on the way to 24 total points, and a one-point lead at halftime for Auburn quickly became a frustrating deficit that led to the loss. While Pearl's squad is significantly understaffed, a quick turnaround at Arkansas and today's home-court advantage might present the perfect opportunity for Auburn to even the series with a win. Bryce Brown and TJ Lang will need to find success behind the arc early and often, and Cinmeon Bowers will need to play smart, secure basketball at the point. If Tyler Harris can play with the same form he rediscovered at Arkansas, then Auburn won't have to rely solely on the three. Free throws will also be crucial in what should be an aggressive and high-scoring matchup.
If you're in town, get to the Arena early, be loud, and pull the Tigers through. I'll be in attendance today, so I'll see y'all at the game.
War Damn Eagle.
How to Watch:
Auburn vs. Ole Miss
When: 4:00 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)