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About Last Night: Auburn 79, Arkansas 56

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That was what we’re supposed to do at home.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Y’all, Rod and Sonny were LIT last night.

Rod: “Harper, left side of the floor for three off the screen, goOoOod from a million miles away!”

Sonny: “How many miles?”

Rod: “A MILLION!”

Sonny: “Oh a million, I love it, I love it!”

It was that kind of night at Auburn Arena last night as the Tigers pummeled Arkansas into a 79-56 submission that wasn’t nearly that close.

The pertinent numbers — Auburn hit 17-33 three-pointers (52%) and shot 48% overall. When the Tigers do that at Auburn Arena, there might not be a team in the country that can keep up, and that comes even when they commit 20 turnovers and only go 10-20 from the free throw line.

It was 22-1 less than seven minutes in, and it was 45-20 at halftime. Auburn’s biggest lead came early in the second half when the Tigers built a 54-22 edge on a Chuma Okeke three, and they cruised from there. If Auburn hadn’t scored a point over the final 12:08, they would’ve won 57-56. That’s the team that we want to see at home.

Couple of things — it was Malik Dunbar’s first start of the season, and he made the most of the opportunity early. He hit two threes during that spurt at the start of the game, and slammed down a huge fastbreak alley-oop as well. All of his points came during the first five minutes, but his energy clearly affected positive change in the team from the jump. You could also see some really solid rebounding from Malik, and he had a couple of slick assists as well. He started for Samir, who was injured and didn’t play much against Vanderbilt, but Samir looked good coming off the bench.

Also, this team got right back in the groove after a couple of slow offensive performances. Yeah, it doesn’t appear as though we’ve solved whatever it was that Ole Miss did to us, but we played like we normally do at home last night and it was great. If we can take it on the road to Rupp, then it’ll be something to see.

The defense. That’s three games in a row where we’ve held the opponent under 60 points. Look at the last few games overall. Great defensive play has become a mainstay lately.

  • vs Missouri - W 92-58
  • vs Alabama - W 84-63
  • vs Florida - W 76-62
  • @ LSU - L 83-78
  • vs Ole Miss - L 60-55
  • @ Vanderbilt - W 64-53
  • vs Arkansas - W 79-56

Taking out the LSU game, that’s an average of 57.8 points per game allowed. Even with the LSU game added in, it only jumps up to 61.4 points allowed. We were worried about what Daniel Gafford may do to us last night since Austin Wiley hasn’t played all that well lately, but he was largely neutralized inside. He finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds, but he didn’t have the impact that he had last year in Fayetteville (21 points, 10 rebounds off the bench). Even if Wiley doesn’t become a 15/10 guy for Auburn down the stretch, his presence in the paint helps the defense immensely.

Also, Bryce Brown hit 5-8 threes last night. That brings his total up to 331 for his career. Here are the top three-point shooters in SEC history:

  1. Chris Lofton (UT) - 431 made threes
  2. Shan Foster (VAN) - 367
  3. Pat Bradley (ARK) - 366
  4. Allan Houston (UT) - 346
  5. Chris Warren (OM) - 334
  6. Kenny Boynton (FLA) - 333
  7. Bryce Brown (AUB) - 331

Auburn has five regular season games left, and at least one SEC Tournament game and one NCAA Tournament game. At a minimum, the Tigers are playing seven more games in Bryce Brown’s career. It’s likely that he could pass Chris Warren for fifth place all time this Saturday in Rupp Arena with a good performance. For the year, Bryce has made 3.5 three-pointers per game, and if he keeps at that pace for the rest of the season, he’ll finish his career with 356 threes, good for fourth place in SEC history. If Auburn makes a run in either Nashville or the NCAAs, then he could push Pat Bradley for third place. He hit 6-7 from deep against Kentucky back in January. This Saturday’s a good place to start.

The Wildcats loom large as the highest-ranked team in the SEC, and the toughest game left on Auburn’s schedule. Kentucky center Reid Travis won’t play this Saturday, though, and he was a big part of the win over Auburn earlier this year with 17 points and 7 rebounds. The Cats are playing like a true title contender, though, and this game won’t be all that much easier without Travis on the floor. We’ll see if Auburn can get the biggest win of the season in Lexington this weekend. War Eagle!