Monday, I shared an Advanced Box Score Primer that was intended to be a handbook for reading the box scores I’ve been sharing on Twitter after each game. Now that I’ve got some time to actually get some writing done, I wanted to dive a little deeper here on the site.
First thing’s first. Here’s the box score files:
Let’s hit on a few observations on the New Mexico game first.
- Auburn didn’t shoot particularly well in this one, shooting below their season average from 2P, 3P, and the charity stripe. Samir saved this from being a nightmare by hitting 5 of 9 from 3, and Wiley was 6 of 8 in the paint, but the rest of the team couldn’t buy a bucket. From the free throw line, 40% was just unacceptable. Luckily, New Mexico struggled even more than Auburn did from the field.
- Despite a bad night shooting for both teams, the difference in this game was all about ball control. Auburn forced 14 steals(!) on the way to the Lobos turning the ball over 24 times. It wasn’t any one player having a career night, either, as six different players had multiple steals for Auburn.
- On the flip side, UNM only had 6 total steals, with Auburn totaling 10 turnovers. This is where BCI (Ball Control Index) becomes an interesting number to look at. Both teams were able to find open shooters at a decent rate (24% assist rate for Auburn, 20% assist rate for UNM), but Auburn’s team defense was able to make passing the ball significantly more difficult for the Lobo offense, as evidenced by the steals and turnovers.
- Auburn had a great night rebounding on the offensive end. pulling in 40% of the possible offensive boards. For reference, Auburn’s season high before this game was just 33%. Good offensive rebounding doesn’t normally go hand-in-hand with a team that takes 50% of its shots from 3. Austin Wiley was able to impose his will in the paint, though, grabbing six of his 13 rebounds on the offensive glass.
- In fact, both of Auburn’s bigs (Wiley and Anfernee McLemore) were forces in this game. In 36 combined minutes, the pair combined for 24 points and 16 rebounds on 9 of 12 shooting. On a night when the rest of the team struggled shooting, having these guys average 2 points per shot was a nice boost in efficiency.
- Auburn shot about equally as well last night from 2 as it did against UNM, but the 3P% dropped even more. Samir was the only guy to hit more than one 3, but the team as a whole was 5 for 19.
- But hey, free throws got better! After a couple of early misses from the line, the team finally figured things out as the game went on. Wiley struggled a bit, shooting 55% on 11 attempts, but the rest of the team went 80% on 20 attempts. The difference in the game was actually Auburn just getting to the free throw line, as the Tigers hit 15 more free throws than Richmond while winning by 14.
- Wiley was a boss again in this one. After putting up a 14/13 double double against UNM, the big man added an 18/8 night to earn the tournament MVP. We’ve joked about him not having post moves and struggling to finish at the basket against other bigs, but he played really well against Grant Golden, one of the better mid-major bigs.
- I’m not sure if the game plan was to shoot fewer threes, or if it was just a factor of seeing Wiley playing well and the shooters going cold, but a 32% 3PA/FGA was the lowest of the season. It was good to see the team still be able to score when not relying on the 3.
- This game was tight well into the second half, and it might have showed us the rotation Bruce really plans to use in close games going forward. Samir played about 10 minutes at point guard, serving as J’Von’s backup. Jamal Johnson is pretty clearly the 3rd guard right now. He played better in this game than he did against New Mexico, but he’s going to need to continue to improve to give the guards some depth. Similarly, Allen Flannigan is the first forward off the bench right now. He may not be a polished scorer yet, but he showed really good positional awareness in Brooklyn. He may not be a star on this team, but he’s a guy that I think will continue to get better as he adjusts to D1 basketball, and by the time he’s an upper-classman he’ll be a problem for other guys.
- If I’m looking at next year, I would probably say Stretch needs to get more minutes now before we get to non-con play, but the combination of McLemore and Wiley splitting roughly equal minutes at the 5 is working extremely well right now. Wiley’s only averaging a little over 18 minutes per game, but he’s averaging 11 points/9 rebounds in that limited time. If that’s what we need to do to keep him fresh and keep his legs healthy, then I’m all for it.
- Auburn’s defense has been ridiculous so far. Despite not racking up the blocks and steals, the eye test tells you they’ve been able to stick like glue to some pretty good guards so far this season. Against Richmond specifically, they forced a trio of guards that was averaging around 55 points per game to post just 29 points on 2 of 15 from 3. Those same guards were shooting a combined 50% from 3 going into this game. I’m sure some of that was a cold night shooting, but very few of those shots were uncontested. Issac Okoro or Samir Doughty was in the face of those guards all night long, and it forced Richmond to have to try and run their offense down low through Grant Golden. Golden had a decent night around the rim, but it was obvious the Spiders weren’t comfortable with that style of play.
That’s all I’ve got right now. Feel free to look around the box score Google Sheet, I’ve also got the box scores for every other game and season totals on different sheets. Did anything stick out to you that I missed? Let me know in the comments!