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This Week in Auburn Hoops: Week EverythingisAwesome!

Winning Season? Swept the Tide? Yup

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Alabama
Return of the Mac
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Two games, two wins. That’s the way to hit your peak at the right time of the season. There are some issues and some kinks that need to be worked out, but this was a week that Auburn could build on for the rest of the season. Auburn is now guaranteed a winning record at the end of the year, and that used to mean a lot on the plains, but this team wants more, and is capable of more.

Also, the sweep of Alabama? No matter what else happens this season, Auburn can count it as a success. I hate those guys.

Last Games

The Alabama game was an anomaly. Rarely can a team get outrebounded by 20 and have only 12 assisted field goals win, much less win the way Auburn did. Auburn had a lead shrink at the end, and ended up with a five point win because it made 15 three-pointers. Auburn shot almost as high a percentage from three as Alabama did from two and that will win games.

Austin Wiley was neutralized by Alabama. The Tide played three forwards and two guards. Avery Johnson is not a dumb coach, so he devised a lineup and matchups to take Wiley out of the game. He threw bodies at Austin and ran his offense through the post so that Austin would have opportunities to get in foul trouble, which happened. Auburn just made so many threes it didn’t matter.

Going into their building, beating them, and beating them with a shot designed to demoralize their fanbase is so awesome. As these two programs continue to recruit so well, these games are going to only get more and more fun for the next few years.

Against State, Auburn turned the Bulldogs over only 13 times, but seemed to score off of every single turnover. That, even more than the ridiculous first half shooting, was the real reason Auburn was able to jump out to such a huge lead. Austin Wiley was a menace in transition and Anfernee Mclemore was able to replace the big man off the bench and Auburn didn’t skip a beat with him in the game.

This was Bryce Brown’s best game of the season, and maybe of his Auburn career. I know, he set records shooting threes last year, and he has had more points than 18 in a game, but he was a basketball player against MSU—not just a shooter. Brown was defending, passing, taking the right shots, and taking care of the ball. It was amazing to see him play 24 minutes and have zero turnovers, two assists and three steals. That is being a positive force on the game. Jared Harper had a really bad night, but Brown picked up the slack. If he can continue to give Pearl these kinds of performances, Auburn can make a run.

Y’all, the refs in the SEC/college basketball are just bad. There are a number of things that bug me about the college game vs. the NBA or European hoops, but the bizarre unique rules and the terrible officiating make college basketball so tough to watch sometimes. I basically just watch Auburn games and the tournament. The NCAA would be better just standardizing its rules and officiating with FIBA and that’s saying something. Especially since so many of these kids end up playing overseas, it would help them to get experience. Ok, HOT TAKE over.

Why Do Wee Keep Blowing Leads?

Great question, Olive Auburnsfans. Auburn blows leads for two reasons. The first is the easiest to recognize: the Tigers are ranked 13th in the conference in points allowed per game, 13th in rebounds per game, and 14th in offensive rebounds per game. Auburn doesn’t do the things that keep leads: getting stops and getting second chance points.

The second reason is a bit tougher to explain. Auburn plays at an extremely fast pace. Auburn tries to shoot with about 15 seconds left on the shot clock. I know this is infuriating to some fans, but it is by design. If Auburn can increase the number of possessions it gets in the game by forcing the other team to play at this breakneck pace, Auburn will run the other team out of the gym. Auburn blows leads for the same reason it builds big leads. If Auburn is making its shots and the opponent isn’t, the pace will make Auburn get out to a huge lead, like we saw in the first half against Miss. State. When Auburn is missing shots, or turning it over, it allows the other team back in the game with more possessions.

“Bruce Pearl needs to teach them to slow it down.” Maybe. Auburn doesn’t have many advantages in the half court against a lot of teams, besides a big center. In transition, Auburn is a deadly shooting team and has guys like Mclemore who can run and get open dunks. Not every team has the ability to play fast and play slow, right now Auburn really doesn’t. Can that come with time? Sure. But it doesn’t even have to. If Auburn can just be more efficient with the ball and score on more of its possessions, it will just run teams out of the gym.

Gimme Numbers


Anfernee Mclemore is a production machine, and was again this week. Against Alabama and MSU, he played 39 minutes. His per minute stats look crazy. He averaged .28 points per minute, .31 rebounds per minute, and .13 blocks per minute. That’s production off the bench. Remember when LaRon Smith used to get minutes? He played a total of five the last two games even though Horace Spencer was out. Mclemore has cemented his role as the first post off the bench, and he isn’t giving that up any time soon. He just doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. When he shoots it, it goes in because he only takes makeable shots. It’s why he is still leading the team in True Shooting Percentage at around 65%

Is Purifoy OK?

Nope. He had zero fouls against MSU, in a game where I think I was even called for two personals. That shows a lack of aggressiveness on defense. He has only taken one two point shot the past three games: a fast break dunk last night. If he could get right, I would feel a lot better about Auburn’s chances of making the big tournament or making a run in the SEC tournament. If he is just healthy enough to sit back and launch threes, Auburn isn’t going to have a ton of success in the post season (unless Bryce Brown stays as hot as he is).

Next Games

Auburn has a road game against Ole Miss and then hosts the Florida Gators. Two games Auburn can win if it plays the way it is able to play. I think Auburn will split these two games. If Auburn does, then it is in a great position to end the season with 20-21 wins. Right now, Auburn is 8th in the conference, but it could work it’s way up in the top five by this time next week.

Final Thoughts?


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