Date: Saturday December 14th
Opponent: Saint Louis Billikens
Location: Legacy Arena - Birmingham
Network: ESPN2, Auburn Radio Network
We’ve made it through another 8 day layoff everybody! Auburn returns to the floor in Birmingham this afternoon to take on an 8-1 Saint Louis team whose only loss this year was to Seton Hall. The Billikens made the NCAA Tournament last season and look poised to be one of the best teams in the Atlantic 10 this season. Saint Louis will be the 3rd Atlantic 10 opponent Auburn has faced so far this season, joining Davidson and Richmond.
Bruce Pearl and Anfernee McLemore both stated on Thursday that Saint Louis is the best team they’ve faced so far and looking at the Billikens this week, I agree with both of them here. This will be a really good challenge for the Tigers today.
Get to Know Saint Louis
It’s impressive to see anyone averaging a double-double through 9 games but the Billikens possess 2 players that have that distinction so far this season. Saint Louis is the only school in the country that can say that. Saint Louis also is coming off a game against previously 7-1 Tulane in which they made 17 3-pointers.
Saint Louis is led in scoring by junior guard Jordan Goodwin (#0). He is averaging 15.4 points per game and 11 rebounds a game. Quite impressive for a 6’3” guard to average that many rebounds a game. He has 62 rebounds in his past 4 games including a career high 19 against Southern Illinois.
In the paint, the Billikens are led by junior forward Hasahn French (#11) who averages 14.9 points and 10.4 rebounds a game. French had a 21 point, 24 rebound game against Belmont earlier this season.
Saint Louis has gotten a boost from a pair of freshmen in the backcourt this season. Guard Yuri Collins (#1) leads all freshmen averaging 5.9 assists a game, while adding 5.8 points a game. Collins arrival has allowed Goodwin to flourish off the ball as Collins has taken over as the starting Point Guard. Off the bench is sharp shooting guard Gibson Jimerson (#24). He’s been compared to Jimmer Fredette and Klay Thompson with his shooting ability. Jimersen made 6 of Saint Louis 17 3s on Sunday and is a 45.3% 3-point shooter this year. He is 3rd on the team averaging 11.3 points a game.
Also don’t forget sophomore guard Demarius Jacobs (#15) averaging 8.2 PPG and also made 6 3s against Tulane on Sunday. The bottom line is this Billikens team has a lot of weapons and can beat you in multiple ways. Finally, Saint Louis is also one of the top rebounding teams in the country averaging 42.4 rebounds a game, 8 more than Auburn does.
What To Expect from Auburn
Auburn won their last game in which they turned it over 19 times and went 4-25 from 3-point range. That can’t happen today because if it does, they won’t leave Birmingham undefeated.
The Tigers have gotten off to a great start this season but they’ve got plenty of room for improvement. The fact they were able to comeback from a 14 point 2nd half deficit shows that this team has great character and can fight through some adversity. I’m sure these guys are chomping at the bit to get back on the court and put the Furman game behind them.
Rebounding and defending the 3-point line will be 2 of the biggest keys for Auburn today. I’m anxious to see Austin Wiley and Anfernee McLemore go up against French in the paint. Wiley came up big late in the Furman game and he is averaging 11 points and 9 rebounds a game this year. The Tigers need Wiley to keep playing the way he has over his last 3 games.
I’m also hoping to see the return of #HeadBandSamir to form. He had a tough game last time out going 0-7 from 3 with 6 turnovers. Doughty still leads the team averaging 18.5 points a game.
I’ve said that this would be a tough game for Auburn a few times this year and the Tigers have proven me wrong. I’ll be shocked if that happens today as this looks to be Auburn’s toughest test on the non-conference schedule. It will be important for Auburn to rebound the basketball and hopefully they will be able to knock down some 3s. While in Birmingham, this is obviously technically a home game for Auburn and hopefully the crowd will make a difference in this game. I think this will be a close physical battle for 40 minutes and I’ll pick Auburn to narrowly win this one. They’ll have to earn it if they want to improve to 9-0 on the season.
Auburn 79 Saint Louis 74