Auburn beat Georgia, covered, got the lid off the SEC win column, and got back on track after the loss to Ole Miss during the midweek. It was a good way to right the ship and get some familiar faces back in the groove.
Couple of things — first up, the shooting just works at home. My goodness, Auburn can hit some field goals in that place. Yesterday was 50% on the dot, with 12-25 three-pointers falling, and hey (!), Auburn even hit 76% from the foul line.
This comes after the tepid night in Oxford, where the Tigers couldn’t even hit from close range, and only stayed somewhat close due to the massive volume of shots from the perimeter. Against Georgia, you could see the concerted effort from Bruce Pearl to install some differences.... mainly, the interior game. Austin Wiley had some trouble against the Rebels, and early on he was proving to be a little tepid as well. So, let’s bring in a guy that needed a chance to turn into the MVP that we saw last year.
It was Anfernee McLemore’s night to shine. For the first time this year, his play mirrored that of last year pre-broken leg. He had 11 points in the first half and a stretch during which he dominated the game on both ends of the floor.
In the end, we saw a bunch of what we saw last year — great perimeter shooting, interior play that hinged on getting rebounds and making highlight dunks, and the tenacity at home to take a lesser team and run them out of the building. It took a little while, but Auburn built a double-digit lead at halftime and never looked back after a short run by the Bulldogs early after halftime. Once it got out of hand, we saw a team playing for fun.
And it’s always nice at the end of the day to see a win lead into something that’ll mean a lot for someone who works hard. In this case, it was two someones.
After all of that, Auburn’s 1-1 in the SEC, and there are a couple of opportunities in the coming week to find a really good handle on the league. The Tigers head to Texas A&M on Wednesday at 6 pm CST, and the Aggies aren’t very good. They did just beat Bama on a buzzer beater, which was hilarious, but they’re just 7-7 overall, and the Tigers can win that game on the road. After that, it’s Kentucky at home on Saturday. The Wildcats just aren’t the team that began the season ranked 2nd. They beat Vanderbilt 56-47 yesterday, and just aren’t very good. Maybe I’ll eat my words, but the Tigers can run that Wildcat team out of the gym at home, and I think they just may. With Anfernee McLemore getting back into shape, and the rest of the team doing what they’re supposed to do, this Auburn squad just may have gotten its groove back.