Date: Thursday December 5th
Opponent: Furman Paladins
Location: Auburn Arena
Network: SEC Network, Auburn Radio Network
Auburn Basketball (finally) returns tonight!
It’s been a long time since last Tuesday night when the Tigers defeated Richmond to win the Legends Classic but the Tigers will return to Auburn Arena for the first time in 2 1⁄2 weeks tonight as they host the 7-2 Furman Paladins out of the Southern Conference.
Get To Know Furman
Last season, the Paladins were the early season mid-major darling after beating both Loyola-Chicago and Villanova, 2 Final Four teams from the previous season on their home floors. Furman stayed in the running for an at-large NCAA Tournament berth all the way until the Conference Tournaments and ended up settling for the NIT last year.
This Paladins team has lost to Alabama and are coming into Auburn after a tough loss in Tampa the other night, 65-55. Leading scorer Jordan Lyons was held to 4 points in that contest.
Lyons (#23) is a 5’11” senior guard who averages 14.8 points a game, but also averages over 12 shots a game. So far this season he is 19-70 from 3-point range (27.1%). Lyons scored a season high 33 points against Alabama on 7-21 shooting.
Junior forward Clay Mounce (#45) is a stretch 4 who is 2nd on the team averaging 14.4 points a game. Mounce is the team’s leading rebounder at 6.8 per game and is shooting 44.9% from 3 (22-49).
Sophomore forward (#4) Noah Gurley has the potential to become one of the best players in the Southern Conference. This year he is averaging 13.4 points a game and is an efficient 44-76 (57.9%) from the field.
Sophomore guard MIke Bothwell (#3) averages 9.8 points a game and junior guard Alex Hunter (#10) averages 9.3 points a game. The Paladins usually play about 8 guys a night so depth might be a factor in this one.
Keys for Auburn
The Tigers haven’t played in over a week so don’t be surprised if it takes them a bit to find their groove again. Austin Wiley was last week’s SEC Player of the Week as he played extremely well in his 2 games in Brooklyn. I feel like this is a favorable matchup for him as he’ll have a clear size advantage over Furman’s big men.
J’Von McCormick is averaging almost 7 assists a game but I would like to see him score a little more. We haven’t seen as much Vintage J’Von in the sense of him driving into the paint and making a shot while drawing contact and he’ll have to do that once league play starts. He’s also only 4-11 from the free throw line. That’s something he has to improve on as well. But J’Von has done a great job so far as he fills the shoes left by Jared Harper.
We’ve seen more Allen Flanigan in the last few games and I’ve liked what I’ve seen from him. He looks to be finding his role as one of Bruce’s primary guards to come off the bench and seeing him get 12-15 minutes a game would be nice as he continues his development.
Auburn looks to go to 8-0 for the first time since 1998 and are one of about 17 teams (as of this writing) left that are undefeated. This team looks to be on a mission but Furman is a solid basketball team. They bring back most of their scorers from last season and I like this game for Auburn as it’s the kind of team you could see in the 1st Round of the NCAA Tournament. I think Auburn may start slow but eventually will be able to pull away and get it done.
It’s also the last home game for Winter Break for the students and the final home game overall for 2 weeks so I’m expecting the Jungle to be ready for this one.
Auburn 79 Furman 64