Auburn basketball has been reeling since giving up 60+ points in the second half of the last three outings. The first one included a dramatic victory thanks to a big first half lead, but the other two... not so much.
So, here we are, with only five conference games left to play and the Tigers needing to win in all of them to finish above .500 in the conference for the first time in I don't know how long. Win all five of them and the Tigers are sitting at 21-10 overall and still looking decent for a post-season birth.
You can't win all of them if you don't win the first, though, so here we are with the Tigers facing the 13-12 Aggies of Texas A&M. The Aggies, like Auburn, are 5-8 in Conference play. They do boast wins over Georgia and Ole Miss - something Auburn can't claim - but their only other wins are against Missouri and LSU. Other than being on the road, this should be a winnable game should the Tigers manage to find some defense.
The Aggies have quite a few players who can score points for them. Like Auburn, they are a very young team. Their top four scorers - all in double-digits per game - are sophomores or freshmen. Auburn's top four scorers are all freshmen.
For Auburn, defense is the key. The offense has managed to score a lot of points, but the team has given up a ton of points, as well. There comes a time when you have to wonder if maybe Bruce Pearl's squad should dial back the tempo and try to control the ball and work better shots to protect big leads when they build them.
Auburn's second-half collapses have come ever since Horace Spencer got hurt. I don't think that's entirely a coincidence, either. Spencer's shot-blocking has been missed. He's also a presence in the paint that we miss, too.
Another thing that needs to happen for the Tigers is for Danjel Purifoy to start driving to the basket again. Ever since his injury, the vast majority of his shots have been from beyond the arc. We really need the Purifoy from the first part of the season to return.
This game could go a number of ways. A win is something Auburn desperately needs. Preferably one where they don't give up a big lead and fall further down the psychological rabbit hole of those losses.
How to Watch, Stream, Listen:
Time: 3 pm Central
Listen: Auburn Sports Network