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#12 Auburn vs North Florida Game Preview and Open Thread

Final Tuneup for the Tigers before SEC Play Begins January 9th

NCAA Basketball: Murray State at Auburn Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday December 29

Opponent: North Florida Ospreys

Location: Auburn Arena

Time: 4PM

Network: SEC Network+, Auburn Radio Network

I would imagine that most folks will have their eyes on the College Football Playoff today but Auburn Basketball (10-2) hits the court for the final time in non-conference play later this afternoon against the Atlantic Sun’s North Florida Ospreys (5-8). This is Auburn’s only game over a 2 12 week period as the Tigers return to the court after a week off for Christmas and then get another 10 days to get ready for the SEC opener on January 9th at Ole Miss.

Get to Know North Florida...

The Ospreys come into this game with a 5-8 record in non-conference play. The Ospreys have played a fairly tough non-conference schedule so far including Florida State, Florida, Minnesota and Dayton. The Ospreys and Tigers have met two times before, both Auburn victories, including the 2016-2017 season opener. They come into this matchup averaging 75.6 points a game, while giving up 79.7 points per game. The 79.7 points per game allowed places them 319th in Division 1 at scoring defense.

The Ospreys have no seniors on their roster but their top 5 scorers are all juniors. The player to watch in this game for North Florida is forward #0 Noah Horchler. The tallest player on the roster at 6’8”, he leads the team averaging 15.7 points per game along with 9.9 rebounds a game. A few other guys to watch are 6’6” guard #11 Garrett Sams, averaging 12.5 points a game, and guard #3 J.T. Escobar averaging 12 points a game. They also have a player from nearby Columbus on the roster in sophomore forward Trip Day who is the Ospreys top bench contributor.

What to Look for from Auburn...

We’ll begin this segment with a bit of a milestone watch. Jared Harper sits on 999 career points. With his next point, he’ll become the 37th player in Auburn history to reach 1000 points in his career. He’ll join Bryce Brown as current Auburn players to reach that plateau as Brown has scored over 1200 points and counting.

This is a game where Auburn fans will hopefully get a chance to see Danjel Purifoy get extended minutes. In his first 3 games, he has scored just 2 points as Auburn has been unable to get him out on the court for more than a few minutes a game, partly because he has to get acclimated to the role he’s going to play on this team, the depth of this team and mostly, due to the closeness of the last 3 games where Coach Pearl hasn’t been able to give him an extended run out on the court. The primary goal in today’s game should be to rectify this and hopefully Purifoy will get at least 15-20 minutes of playing time today.

In his first start of the season, Austin Wiley took advantage of his size with 17 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Murray State. This looks like another game where Wiley has the potential to dominate inside. As Auburn continues to make Wiley a focal point of the offense, I look to see Auburn continue to feed the big fella in the paint.

Score Prediction

Seeing this is the only game in a 2 12 week stretch, Auburn may have rough patches at times in this game due to rustiness but the Tigers should be able to take care of business in this game. The Ospreys play a lot of zone and that should give Auburn shooters plenty of open looks from 3-point range. Look for the Tigers to experiment with more lineups as they look to get Purifoy involved with the team and hopefully by game’s end, he will look much more comfortable as SEC play begins after this contest.

Auburn 87 North Florida 62