Fresh off a big road victory and sweep of Alabama, Auburn is set to hit the court at home again tonight against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. It's a chance to hopefully break the mid-week blues the Tigers have suffered from over the last few weeks with bad losses to South Carolina and Tennessee.
We're now coming down the home stretch of conference play, and while things don't necessarily get easier, the path does present more winnable games than definite losses. First up are the Bulldogs, though.
Mississippi State is coming off a win over Tennessee, something the Tigers couldn't pull off just a week ago. They're 5-5 in conference and 14-8 overall. They don't have any real marquee wins on their schedule, but they did play Kentucky pretty well and do have that home win over UT.
Auburn, meanwhile, is 15-8 overall. If you want to know how thin the margin is in the SEC right now, the Tigers are 9th in the SEC at 4-6 while MSU - at 5-5 - is tied for 4th. The middle of the conference could swing any number of ways between now and the SEC Tournament.
The Bulldogs are led by sophomore guard Quinndary Weatherspoon. He is averaging 17 points per game and is 3rd on the team in rebounds with 4.8. He is by far their biggest scoring threat, with freshman Lamar Peters second with 11.9 ppg. Behind those two, they spread the points around a lot more with four players at 7 ppg or more.
MSU averages 73.7 points per game and gives up just 70. That's compared to the Tigers averaging 79 points per game and allowing 77. Statistically, the teams are fairly evenly matched. We'll see how that plays out with the home court advantage. It didn't work out that well against Tennessee, that's for sure.
Auburn continues to be led by Heron, Harper, and Purifoy (even with his injury issues). Harper had a monster week providing most of the offense against UT in the first half and then another big game against Alabama on Saturday. It was enough to earn him SEC Freshman of the Week honors. Austin Wiley is approaching the 10 ppg margin, as well, sitting at 9.1. When the Tigers keep him out of foul trouble and on the floor, the offense becomes a lot harder for opposing teams to stop.
It's unknown right now whether Horace Spencer will be good to go in this one. We sure could use him, since MSU has a few contributors in the 6'10 - 6'11 range, and Wiley will need other big men to grab boards and otherwise work against the Bulldogs' bigs.
I'd like to say the home court advantage will pull this one out. I certainly hope it will. It's just been so hard to tell which team is going to show up from Auburn from game-to-game. This should be a winnable game in the friendly confines of Auburn Arena, but until we see which team is going to show up, it's impossible to say.
How to Watch, Stream, Listen
Time: 8pm Central
Listen: Auburn Sports Network