With the win over Dayton last night, Auburn improved to 8-1 on the year, and that means a lot. First, the highlights.
There’s a lot of Bryce Brown in there, and for good reason. He poured in a career high 34 points (22 in the first half) and was a big reason that Auburn never really got threatened despite being outshot, out-rebounded, and out-muscled a lot of the time against the Flyers.
Brown’s 34 and Harper’s 20 points provided the bulk of the scoring, and Samir Doughty had a fantastic night stuffing the stat sheet (8 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals), but other than that trio, nobody did much for Auburn.
Dayton shot 48% overall and from three-point range, and had a big edge on the glass (35-26), but this Auburn team can beat you in so many ways. With Bryce having a huge game, it wasn’t necessary for the frontcourt to make things happen, and they were the periphery of the attack. The defense was also incredible aside from the whole boxing-out portion of the game. Time and time again they made Dayton use almost all of the shot clock, and it wasn’t by the Flyers’ design. Auburn simply made it impossible for Dayton to find an open shot early in the possession. The game was much closer than it could have been because of the fact that Dayton shot so well. They hit some contested threes and a couple of last-second shots that normally wouldn’t fall with regularity.
As for Auburn, it was a little concerning getting dominated on the glass like that, but it’s really the first time that’s happened. Bruce Pearl wasn’t pleased after the game, and with good reason. The Tigers won fairly easily, and you never really felt like the game was in danger, but it wasn’t the smoothest of performances. Chuma Okeke did nothing in the game, and Anfernee McLemore missed a couple of wide open threes. If not for the great night by Bryce, it would’ve been close.
When your coach wants to talk about the Toys for Tots production and tout those numbers over anything else from the night, it wasn’t great below the surface.
“That’s the best stat that I can give you.”— Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) December 9, 2018
@coachbrucepearl thanking @AuburnMBB fans for donating 1️⃣,5️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ to Toys for Tots.
“This is the season for giving....Let’s not stop there.” pic.twitter.com/opdne5G61t
Thankfully, Auburn’s got some good things on the horizon. First up, it’s a few days off to get ready for UAB (who’s definitely not great). The Blazers are 6-3, but haven’t beaten anybody of any worth, and the three losses were all by at least 18 points to Florida State, College of Charleston, and Memphis. Auburn shouldn’t have too much trouble taking down UAB next weekend in Birmingham, and especially not with the emotional boost that they’ll get from one addition to the roster.
I’m officially back— Thedanjelpurifoy3 (@DanjelKevon3) December 9, 2018
It remains to be seen what kind of an impact Danjel Purifoy’s return to the team will have, and how the lineup will fall with him in the rotation, but it certainly can’t hurt. Right now, Auburn’s getting uneven performances with Chuma having a great night but Samir being off, or vice versa. If Purifoy comes in and can produce every single game, then the lineup possibilities may blossom. If he doesn’t have an impact right away, though... well, this is still a very good basketball team.