At the beginning of 2019, we here at College and Magnolia asked for feedback from our readers on what we can do to make our site better. One of the most popular requests was for us to do a Deep Cuts series for basketball like we have for football. Ask and you shall receive.
Disclaimer: I’m going to be brutally honest with everyone as we begin: I am not a Xs and Os guy, as I much prefer looking at stats. What I hope to do with this is highlight some of the best/most significant plays from the game. That said, I’m looking forward to giving this a shot and hope that ya’ll will enjoy it!
So today we will start with a guy who I couldn’t be more happier to see play well and that’s Anfernee McLemore.
Yesterday, McLemore was back to his sophomore season self, scoring 15 points (11 in the 1st half) and had 9 rebounds against his home-state school. He was definitely much more active, confident and to quote him “bouncier.” With Austin Wiley and Chuma Okeke in foul trouble early, McLemore and Horace Spencer stepped up and helped turn the game around in Auburn’s favor in the 1st half.
Here we see Samir Doughty take the ball into the paint (rather than settle for a 3), and while he missed the shot, there’s some great hustle from Horace to keep the ball alive here. Once Horace went up for the shot, Anfernee comes flying in to crash the offensive glass for the put-back dunk.
Doing a rewatch of yesterday’s Auburn game and this was one of my favorite plays. The Tigers make a concerted effort to get the ball into the paint and welcome back Anfernee McLemore!! pic.twitter.com/6s7vOi1Qo0— Will McLaughlin (@ShootyHoopsWill) January 14, 2019
This was one of 15 2-point field goals in the 1st half coming off a game where Auburn made just 8 of those the entire game. I love seeing plays like this from McLemore and if this becomes more of what we will see from him going forward, it gives the Tigers another dimension.
Next, we jump ahead to the beginning of the second half. Austin Wiley spent most of the 1st half on the bench with foul trouble but came back strong on this play to set the tone for the 2nd half.
Great to see Austin Wiley grab the offensive rebound here and get the putback to go in despite the contact. pic.twitter.com/5YrrA3iFIa— Will McLaughlin (@ShootyHoopsWill) January 14, 2019
To be honest, this possession looked like one initially we saw a lot of against Ole Miss. The ball never got inside the 3-point arc and Brown was unable to get this 3-ball to drop (this was Bryce’s only miss from 3-point range Saturday). Nevertheless, Wiley is able to get the rebound, absorb the contact from Nicolas Claxton, and get the hoop and harm. He didn’t make the free throw on the and-one opportunity following this play but was 6-8 yesterday in that department.
Okay, the other two plays we’re going to highlight are ones for the highlight reels. This first one sent the Jungle and Auburn Arena into delirium..... enjoy.
Hearing the reaction to Dunbar’s dunk on the computer is one thing but I legit thought the roof was coming off of Auburn Arena after this one!!! THROW IT DOWN!! pic.twitter.com/yULf0lw2AE— Will McLaughlin (@ShootyHoopsWill) January 14, 2019
This play really felt like game over for Georgia. The Bulldogs had a chance to cut the deficit to 8-9 with 4 minutes only for both Jared Harper and Samir Doughty to hustle down the court to stop the fast break and then you know the rest....
The best part of Malik Dunbar’s dunks are the anticipation of knowing what he’s about to do and the ferocity of how he throws these dunks down. I did an article of the best dunks from this season so far and this one may be my new favorite dunk from Malik this year, given the magnitude and situation of the game.
And finally, to put icing on the cake Saturday, hello Chuma Okeke! One of the biggest knocks on Chuma’s game this year has been the lack of aggressiveness on the offensive end. He took the very first play of this game and took the ball to the basket. He didn’t score, but that was a welcome sight. And while he and Wiley both dealt with foul trouble Saturday, and Chuma only scored 4 points, he made sure that 2 of those 4 points were memorable.
Last one: we interrupt this Tennessee talk for CHUMA OKEKE THROW IT DOWN ONE TIME!!! pic.twitter.com/sCdw6NMeIq— Will McLaughlin (@ShootyHoopsWill) January 14, 2019
“TOM! TOM! DID YOU SEE THAT? WHAT WAS THAT!!”
What THAT was is the Chuma Okeke we all know is capable of doing things like this on a nightly basis. Here we have 3 defenders collapse on Jared Harper and he passes it up to the open man. Chuma had a wide open 3 but thought better of it, got by Claxton and provided quite the highlight reel. Rayshaun Hammonds knew what was about to happen and he wanted no part of it.
Hopefully plays like these will build confidence for the team as Auburn takes the show back on the road Wednesday evening against Texas A&M. My hope is that Auburn will play with as much energy and passion that they did in Auburn Arena on Saturday. War Eagle!