Date: Friday November 9
Opponent: #25 Washington Huskies
Location: Auburn Arena
Network: SEC Network/Auburn Radio Network
Before we dive into Washington, here’s a little history lesson for you. The last time Auburn had a ranked non-conference matchup at home was February 1, 1987. On that day, #3 UNLV beat #18 Auburn 104-85 on their way to the Final Four where the Runnin’ Rebels lost to eventual National Champion Indiana. The last ranked non-conference team to visit Auburn was then Big 12 member #13 Texas A&M on December 22, 2006, a 87-58 Texas A&M win. The Tigers also hosted #2 Pittsburgh that same season, a 74-66 Pitt win on December 3, 2006. But enough history, onto the Huskies.
Get to Know Washington...
We did a Q&A with the guys from Washington to learn more about the Huskies. You can find that story here. Mike Hopkins, a Jim Boeheim disciple, is in his 2nd season with the Huskies. Washington had a difficult season opener Tuesday night against Conference USA favorite Western Kentucky but outscored the Hilltoppers 46-19 in the second half in a 73-55 Washington victory. Washington won’t be intimidated by the environment either. They will likely start 3 seniors, a junior and a sophomore and played Kansas last year in Kansas City (essentially a home game for the Jayhawks) and won.
On offense, they are led by Atlanta native Noah Dickerson and Jaylen Nowell. Both players averaged around 16 points per game last season. Dickerson had 18 and Nowell had 17 points against the Hilltoppers on Tuesday. On defense, keep an eye on Matisse Thybulle, one of the best defensive players in the Pac-12. He’s listed at 6’5” but blocked 6 shots on Tuesday night and it will be fascinating to see who he ends up guarding when Auburn has the ball. Washington will most likely have the size advantage all over the court height-wise.
What to Look for from Auburn...
The last statement I just made makes the next statement even more important. It looks like Austin Wiley will make his season debut for the Tigers tonight. It will be great to get him out on the floor, even for a few minutes to get his feet wet and get some game time under his belt as the Tigers look towards Maui in about 10 days. I would think Wiley may get about 10-15 minutes tonight off the bench and eventually form a really good combo at center with Anfernee McLemore.
Also, look to see how Auburn attacks Washington’s zone defense. I feel like the Tigers may challenge the mark they set Tuesday night when they attempted 38 3-pointers. They made 18 of them against South Alabama. If the 3-pointers are falling, it could be a great night for the Tigers. However, Washington is one of the best defensive teams in the Pac-12 so it won’t be an easy task. They run the zone defense made famous by Syracuse and it’s known to give teams fits in the past so we’ll see how Auburn handles it.
Tonight will be a great opportunity to see how Auburn responds playing on the big stage. I think it’s Bryce Brown’s night tonight. He only had 12 the other night against South Alabama and I think he goes for 25+ tonight. I think this will be a tight contest throughout but in the end, I think Auburn is just a little better and I’ll take the Tigers at home. Auburn 86 Washington 81