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This Week in Auburn Hoops: Week 12

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Ups and Downs, Strikes and Gutters

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Woof. What a week. Both is the “Woof that was amazing” sense and in the Buzz’s girlfriend sense.

Past Games

Auburn played as its best self against Alabama, running away with a win in a game dominated by Mr. Austin Wiley. Auburn was better on both ends than Alabama, and was particularly good at defending Alabama’s guards in the second half. Danjel Purifoy had an off night, but that could be expected in his first game back from an injury. Surely he wouldn’t have two straight stinkers?

In the eloquent words of the current President, “Wrong!”

Against South Carolina, in a game Auburn needed to win if it wanted establish credibility nationally, Purifoy was invisible. Zero points, one rebound, zero assists in 24 minutes! Truly a miserable night for one of Auburn’s best.

Austin Wiley had the best week ever, recording a career high in points (19) against Alabama and a double-double against South Carolina.

I mentioned in the article about the Alabama game that Auburn registers a low number of assists as a team. Well, Auburn only had eight assists against South Carolina. As a team. Jared Harper and Ronnie Johnson each had a goose-egg in the assist column. If you want to look at a box score and not even see the score and be able to tell if a team got blown out, thats a great place to start. When you aren’t getting assists it means you are holding the ball too long. It means the team isn’t sharing and finding open shooters.

South Carolina had 23 assists against Auburn. The ‘Cocks found open shooters all over the place. I don’t know the specifics of how Pearl coaches offense, but I can be pretty sure he doesn’t coach the stagnant brand of basketball we have seen from the young Tigers.

Auburn shot 14% from beyond the arc. Let’s quit talking about this game.

Next Games

If Auburn can figure out how to erase the South Carolina game from its collective memory, and can move on as if it is the team that crushed Alabama, then it should find the TCU game as an excellent test of its mettle. If the team that South Carolina throttled shows up against the Frogs, Auburn will lose by 20.

TCU is a quality team. They have lost three straight, including a game to the Texas Tech team Auburn beat earlier in the season. They also lost to Baylor and Oklahoma State, two of the better teams in one of the best basketball conferences in America.

They got this guy, Vladimir Brodziansky from Slovakia, He is a 6-10 monster in the lane. His PER is 32.8, the highest on the team and higher than any Auburn starter by a mile. The thing he does that could kill the Tigers is he draws contact. He shoots a free throw for every two field goal attempts he takes and he rebounds 18.6% of all available defensive rebounds. He is kryptonite for the things Auburn doesn’t do well. Auburn’s best post player, Austin Wiley, has a tendency to get into foul trouble and no one on Auburn is great at grabbing offensive rebounds. I’m worried about this game.

Things I know about this team

Remember when I thought Mustapha Heron was the best player on this team? Well know I know Austin Wiley holds that title. His PER is best on the team among players with significant minutes at 22.7, he is second to Heron in Usage at 24%, and grabs 18.2% of all available rebounds, and gets to the line at an amazing rate. He shoots a free throw for every field goal he takes, effectively neutralizing physical play against him.

Heron is still pretty good. He is responsible, either through scoring himself or assisting, for 108 points in since conference play started. No other Auburn player is responsible for more than 95.

Auburn needs an offensive leader going forward, and it looks like it is going to be number 50

Things I think about team

I think Anfernee Mclemore is playing incredibly. However, I actually think the team plays better with Spencer next to Wiley, only because Spencer’s athleticism on defense makes up for some of Wiley’s deficiencies. Not to say Mclemore is a slouch. He is blocking shots left and right and is way more of an offensive threat than Spencer. Wow, it almost seems like Auburn has depth at the post all the sudden. We have been looking for reliable post players for so long.

Things I want to see from this team

I want to see Auburn rebound from this loss and put two good halves together against TCU. I am tired of hearing about how “bad” the SEC is at hoops. This is a great matchup of two teams at about the same spot in their respective conferences. Auburn definitely has the talent advantage in terms of recruiting rankings, and we are getting to the point in the season where these players can’t use the “freshman” excuse anymore.

I want to see them turn the corner, the way we thought they have so many times this season.

Here’s to hoping

Until next week,

War Eagle and Get Buckets