Date: Friday November 8th
Opponent: Davidson Wildcats
Location: Alumni Hall - Annapolis, Maryland
Network: CBS Sports Network, Auburn Radio Network
One of the best parts of the early college basketball season is seeing some incredible events taking place in some of the most unique environments. Whether games are played in Alaska, China or the Bahamas, there’s something really cool about seeing games played in so many different places. In addition to that, there’s something extremely special about playing in an event that's designed to honor our nation’s military.
Just a few sights and sounds from today’s activities with our guests who are in town for the 2019 Veterans Classic. pic.twitter.com/KWjjh5392B— Navy Athletics (@NavyAthletics) November 7, 2019
Tonight, Auburn is playing in the Veterans Classic on the campus of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland against Davidson as part of a Doubleheader. Host Navy plays East Carolina in the 2nd half of the Doubleheader tonight.
This is the 6th year of the Veterans Classic being a part of the first Friday of the season and Auburn is the 5th SEC team to play in the event. They take on a Davidson team who will be playing in their season opener tonight. This is only the 2nd all-time meeting between the Tigers and Wildcats. Their only other contest back all the way back in 1951, a game won by Auburn 66-59.
Get to Know Davidson
If Davidson is able to win this game, expect to see them in the Top 25 next week. When the initial AP Poll was released, they were one of the first teams left out in the Receiving Votes category so that should be enough to tell you that Davidson has to be respected as a worthy opponent to Auburn this evening.
Davidson is going to test Auburn tonight as they have several talented players back from last year’s team plus an extremely experienced head coach. Bob McKillop is entering his 31st season at Davidson and only 3 coaches in Division 1 have had a longer tenure at their school than McKillop. You also may know a little about Davidson because of this guy named Stephen Curry who played for McKillop 10-12 years ago. You may have heard of him.
But this team of Wildcats looks quite formidable on paper. They are picked to finish 2nd in the Atlantic 10 behind VCU who is ranked right behind Auburn in the AP Poll. The winner of this game will have a solid Q1 win on their resume for the duration of the season.
This may also be one of the most diverse rosters Auburn faces this year as seven countries are represented on Davidson’s roster. While Auburn had to replace their top 3 scorers from last year, Davidson returns their top 6 scorers from last season’s team, a team that won 24 games last season and made the NIT.
Junior guard Kellan Grady (#31) leads the way for the Wildcats. Last season, the Boston native averaged 17.3 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. Grady entered his name into the NBA Draft but elected to return to school.
Senior guard Jon Axel Gudmundsson (#3) has some extremely impressive numbers in his own right. Last season, he averaged 16.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists a game. The Iceland native is tall guard at 6’5” and he’s the guy you don’t want to foul as he was the team’s best free throw shooter last year at 82.6%
Next is arguably my favorite player on this team in sophomore forward Luka Brajkovic (#35). I saw him play against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem last season and he made quite the impression on me. Last year, he averaged 11.1 points and 6 rebounds a game but he put the team on his back that night, in a game that they didn’t have Kellan Grady and nearly knocked off the Demon Deacons. The Austrian native is a critical piece in the Davidson frontcourt.
Luka Brajkovic (Davidson) has been one of the best European newcomers so far (12.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.3 APG).— Riccardo De Angelis (@RicDeAnge) December 18, 2018
6-10, long arms, great footwork and inside scoring, he is expanding his range and passes the ball well. A great contributor and a potential star at the collegiate level. pic.twitter.com/zdUfCo4nV8
Next is Davidson’s best 3-point shooting threat and that is sophomore guard Luke Frampton (#14). He made 100 3-pointerswhile averaging 10.3 points a game and shooting 37.6% from 3-point range last year.
Other role players returning include senior guard KiShawn Pritchett (#20) averaging 6.9 points a game and junior guard Carter Collins (#24) who averaged 5.4 points a game last year.
What to Look For From Auburn
Tuesday night played out pretty much how I thought it would. The Eagles were a great opening night test and they exposed some things in which Auburn needs to work, especially the 21 turnovers. But these are things that need to be expected of a team that is working guys into new roles and as guys who were supporting members of last year’s team become more focal points of this year’s team. Patience will be required watching this team but they have the pieces to be really good as the year goes on.
One place where Auburn may be able to take advantage of Davidson is in the frontcourt. While Brajkovic anchors the frontcourt for the Wildcats, depth is somewhat of a concern for them. So this is where I look for Austin Wiley to take advantage. Austin had 13 points and 9 rebounds in the season opener and with Auburn putting more emphasis into getting the ball inside, the Tigers need to establish Wiley early and often in this game.
He along with Anfernee McLemore played about 20 minutes each the other night and I feel like that’s a fair amount of minutes you should expect to see those guys this season. McLemore only scored 2 points the other night but the Tigers will need more out of their sixth man in this game.
Who does Isaac Okoro guard? Does he guard Kellan Grady, Jon Axel Gudmundsson, or a bit of both. Okoro and Samir Doughty will both play a huge role in this one with how they play defense against these two. Doughty led Auburn with 20 points the other night as he looks ready to take on more of the scoring load which is needed after what departed after last season.
Guys, this one is honestly a tossup for me. The Tigers are in the midst of 3 games over a week stretch, 2 away from Auburn Arena. Auburn also had a pretty quick turnaround after Tuesday’s tough win over Georgia Southern, playing Tuesday night and traveling to Annapolis on Wednesday, while Davidson has had all of summer and fall to get ready for this one. This would be a valuable win for Auburn as they go through out this year and while it’s going to be a tough one to get, I’m gonna pick Auburn to pull it out.