Date: Saturday January 12th
Opponent: Georgia Bulldogs
Location: Auburn Arena
Network: ESPN2, Auburn Radio Network
Get to Know Georgia...
Georgia comes into Auburn at 9-5 (1-1) on the season after an 82-63 win over Vanderbilt Wednesday night. The Bulldogs are led by first year head coach Tom Crean who will make his first trip to the Jungle on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs are averaging 77.3 points per game while giving up 72 points per game. This game could easily become a potential block party as Georgia is tied for 2nd in the county, alongside Washington, with 6.4 blocks per game. Compare that to Auburn, and the Tigers are tied for 4th in the country, with Tennessee, with 6.2 blocks per game.
With Georgia no longer having Yante Maten on their roster, there is some younger guys doing their best to fill the void left by Maten. Sophomore forward (#20) Rayshaun Hammonds leads Georgia in scoring with 14.2 points per game. But one guy to pay close attention to on Georgia is another sophomore forward (#33) Nicolas Claxton who is averaging 12.4 points and 9.9 rebounds a game so far this year. Claxton only averaged 3.9 points a game last year but his minutes and role on this team have greatly increased this season. Another forward (#34) Derek Ogbeide is a senior averaging 10.3 points and 6.6 rebounds a game.
What to Look for from Auburn...
A lot of what I’m looking for can be found in this article written by our editor Jack Condon on Thursday. The bottom line is this: there are too many talented guys on this team to not play up to their potential. This game is an opportunity for the frontcourt to step up and perform up to their capabilities after a poor showing at Ole Miss. Auburn made just 8 2-point field goals Wednesday night. Auburn’s frontcourt of Austin Wiley, Chuma Okeke, Horace Spencer and Anfernee McLemore were a combined 4-18 shooting. That’s not going to get it done in SEC play.
One of the biggest keys to this game is who does a better job on the glass. While Auburn is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, they’re going up against a team that’s one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the country so something has to give there.
One of the things that Auburn would do well to exploit is to try and get these guys into foul trouble. Last Saturday, Ogbeide and Claxton had early foul trouble against Tennessee and the Vols took full advantage of that on their way to beating Georgia 96-50.
Jared Harper was 3-14 from the field Wednesday night but gets another crack at his home state team. In the last matchup between these schools, Harper tied his then career high in points with 24 in a 79-65 win at Georgia, sweeping the Bulldogs in a season for the first time since the 1985-1986 season. Look for Harper to bounce back after scoring just 9 points on 3-14 shooting Wednesday.
Finally, I would like to see Malik Dunbar and Horace Spencer get a few more minutes. I know that’s easier said than done but every time they are on the court, they bring such a spark off the bench. Dunbar played well at Ole Miss, making all 4 of his shots and scoring 11 points in just 13 minutes, 2nd on the team Wednesday night.
Auburn’s playing at home where they’re much more comfortable than they are away from Auburn Arena. In 8 home games, the Tigers are outscoring their opponents by 31.7 points a game, while only 1 game was decided by single digits. This is a huge game for Auburn to re-establish themselves after several questions emerged after the loss to Ole Miss. I think the advantage Auburn’s guards have will be the difference and Auburn will take care of business at home.
Auburn 81 Georgia 67