Yesterday, we took a look at some of the top plays from Auburn’s escape from New Mexico State in the first round. Today, the stress level will be much lower as we break down some of the best moments from Auburn’s butt whooping of the hapless Jayhawks this past Saturday night.
In the Round of 32, Auburn found themselves facing one of the premier basketball programs in the nation. The Kansas Jayhawks didn’t have a usual Kansas like season and on paper this matchup looked REALLY favorable for the Tigers but it was hard not to look past that logo. I mean seriously, Auburn whooping Kansas in March? That totally doesn’t happen right?
Oh it happened and it was beautiful.
Auburn’s first score of the game revealed some of the issues Kansas was going to have defending the Tigers. The action starts with McElmore passing to Dunbar on the wing and then setting an off ball screen up top for Jared Harper. Dunbar passes back to Harper while McElmore then sets another screen before rolling towards the basket. The Kansas big man steps out to take away the 3 but Harper’s man goes over top the ball screen resulting in 2 men on Harper and none on McElmore.
Notice how wide open the lane is as well here. Auburn does a great job spacing the floor and with Kansas so concerned about the 3 point shooting prowess of the Tigers, they basically leave the lane abandoned for Anfernee.
It became apparent very quickly that Kansas was going to have some issues with their transition defense. This play starts with a missed Jayhawk shot that McElmore pulls down and quickly outlets out to Harper. Malik Dunbar does a great job of running the floor, beating the whole Kansas squad back down the floor. Jared then does what Jared does and perfectly threads the pass to Dunbar who finishes through some contact.
Turnovers fuel this Auburn attack. The Tigers did an outstanding job of denying entry passes inside to Dedric Lawson through most of the first half which is what triggers this big three point shot. Kansas tries to feed their big man but McElmore pokes it away into Harper’s hands. Jared then uses McElmore as a human shield and puts up his trademarked deep three in transition. Man I love Harper bombs...
Again, great defense leads to 3 points. Horace Spencer gets a big paw on a Jayhawk pass that ends up in Harper’s hands. Jared then makes a nifty move to dish the ball to Bryce who gives it back quickly before sinking into the corner. No one picks Bryce up as he slides into the corner and Jared finds him again for the big 3. Jared and Bryce both burying their first looks of the day is huge for this team’s energy. Get em both going early and the opponent has a major problem on their hands.
This play should just run on loop in the Auburn Arena for eternity. Kansas’s best player gets his weak take sent back like it deserves by Chuma Okeke and into the waiting hands of Samir Doughty who just knew Harper would make a run for it and hits em perfectly in stride. Jared Harper then gives this play the fitting ending it deserved.
WE’VE GOT JARED!
Not only can Jared pull up & bury a three from anywhere past half court or blow by you and dunk it over you and all your loved ones but he can also hit you with sky high tear drops off the dribble.
Similar action here as the first bucket of the game thought it takes even less work for Anfernee to find an easy path to the rim.
Defense becoming offense, it’s a beautiful thing. Even though he ends up not scoring the bucket, watch Samir Doughty take off after poking the ball free. He wanted that thing in the corner but Bryce instead makes the safer play by dumping it off to the big man after a slick spin move. I’m REALLY hoping we get more Austin Wiley dunks next season....
This feels appropriate to end on. At the end of the day, Auburn was better at all five positions than Kansas. As crazy as that is to say, it’s the truth. They proved it possession after possession and now get a chance to see where they stack up against the very best in the nation tomorrow.