Date: Tuesday November 26th
Opponent: Richmond Spiders
Location: Barclays Center - Brooklyn, New York
Time: 7:30 PM
Network: ESPN2, Auburn Radio Network
After waiting seven days between games last week, we get to double dip with games in back to back nights! Auburn knocked off the Lobos last night, and their opponent tonight, the Richmond Spiders, beat Wisconsin 62-52 in the early game last night.
Get to Know Richmond
Richmond is a 5-0 squad out of the Atlantic 10 Conference led by Head Coach Chris Mooney. This is Mooney’s fifteenth season at the helm of the Spiders, and in his tenure he’s 255-215 with two NCAAT appearances. The last two seasons have been rough on Richmond, though, with a combined 25-40 record.
Things have started off nicely for Mooney’s squad this year, with a 5-0 record through the season’s first few weeks. Those five wins include victories over Wisconsin last night, and an overtime win over Vanderbilt on 11/14. They currently sit at #83 in KenPom, but their win over KenPom #51 Wisconsin is better than any of Auburn’s wins thus far.
Richmond has a dynamite offense centered around three upperclassmen guards who all shoot 3s well. In fact, the team as a whole is #2 in the country shooting 45% from three. The backcourt of Blake Francis, Nick Sherod, and Jacob Gilyard combine for 54.4 of the team’s 86.4 points per game. Led by Sherod, the three of them also combine to shoot 21 3PA per game at exactly a 50% clip so far. Is there any question about how Auburn needs to defend them?
Gilyard, pictured above, runs the point for Richmond. At 5’9” 160 lbs, he might look like a familiar sight to Tiger fans. He’s having a hell of a year so far, with an eFG north of 77% (compare to Samir’s 67% or Bryce’s senior year 61.5%) and PER of 31.3. Auburn should have a distinct size advantage on him tonight, but that didn’t stop another diminutive point guard we all know and love.
In the front court, the Spiders are led by 6’10” junior Grant Golden, who’s nearly nabbing a double/double every night with 11.6 points and 9 rebounds. Richmond like to go to him down low, but he has struggled finishing with just a 51% FG%.
Richmond employs a 9-man “rotation”, but their top three guards all play 30+ minutes per night. Andre Gustavson, a sophomore guard out of Finland, is basically the backup guard to each of the big 3 listed above, but even at 18 minutes he only averages a little over two points per game. The Spiders bench really does not contribute much in the way of points, with the starting five tallying 377 of the team’s 432 points (87%) so far this season.
Keys for Auburn
I hinted at it above, but the key to this game for Auburn is perimeter defense. Okoro and Doughty will need to play their guys tight when off-ball as to avoid open looks at the 3 point line, and I’m fully confident in those two to do it.
Richmond is also an awful rebounding team on their own end, pulling in just 25% of their offensive boards. This is probably in large part due to them raining threes all the time, but 25% is bad for anyone. I’m curious to see how much Wiley plays against a team that doesn’t want to go inside, although I think a better strategy would be to get Wiley and Mac on the floor together. Mac should be able to defend outside while playing power forward, and Wiley could be a wrecking ball on offense like he was last night.
The Spiders have a BCI (Ball Control Index) of 2.39, which if you read the advanced box score primer you’d know anything above a 2.0 is really good. That being said, the Richmond offense is not super turnover prone, so it will be interesting to see how the Auburn defense plays them.
Also, Richmond is currently in possession of a nice chunk of colonies at the moment. A win tonight would see Auburn absorb three sizable population centers in Nashville, Milwaukee, and Richmond. Auburn will have a chance to consolidate its territories in conference play, but until then the strategy of grabbing up cities and ports (Mobile, Savannah) should work well.
Auburn should be able to contain this Richmond team with their superior size and athleticism. BUT, this Richmond team has the same trick up its sleeve that Auburn did last year - if they get hot shooting, it doesn’t matter how much bigger and faster you are than them, they will score in bunches. I like Auburn to get to 7-0 in this one, though, and we might see Austin Wiley post a third straight double double tonight.