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#5 Auburn vs Georgia Game Preview and Open Thread

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It’s a showdown of border rivals highlighted by freshmen going to head: Anthony Edwards vs. Isaac Okoro

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at New Mexico Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday January 11th

Opponent: Georgia Bulldogs

Location: Auburn Arena

Time: 11:00AM

Network: ESPNNEWS, Auburn Radio Network

Due to expected bad weather in the area on Saturday afternoon, this game has been moved from a 5PM start to an 11AM Start. It stinks we’re losing our primetime ESPN TV spot BUT keeping everyone safe is much more important than a TV Spot.

Today’s matchup brings a likely Top 5 Draft Pick in the 2020 NBA Draft into town in Anthony Edwards. It’s all but likely today will be the only time you’ll get to see him play in Auburn Arena. It’s been an extremely tough stretch for the Bulldogs as Georgia finishes a 3 game stretch of facing Memphis, Kentucky and Auburn in consecutive games. The Bulldogs won at Memphis last Saturday before falling in a close one Tuesday night at home against Kentucky.

But before we get much deeper into this preview though, I feel the need to share 2 moments that happened, the last 2 times Georgia has come to Auburn, 1 each in the last 2 years.

First in 2018, I’ll never forget seeing this incredible Mustapha Heron dunk and people falling over all around me going crazy! This was an incredibly fun game!

Then in 2019, we got this moment from Chuma Okeke and a reaction for the ages from Myles Parker.

What’s in store for 2020 Auburn-Georgia?

Get to Know Georgia

As a team, Georgia averages 80 PPG, but gives up 73.4 PPG. They shoot 30.5% from 3-point range and average 41.6 rebounds a contest. Georgia looked good in the 1st half on Tuesday night against Kentucky but the Cats played one of their better halves of the season to slow down some of Georgia’s momentum.

Freshman Guard Anthony Edwards (#5) - 18.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG

For Georgia, it starts with Anthony Edwards. A consensus top ranked recruit in America, Edwards is the highest ranked recruit to play at Georgia. He’s one of the best freshman in the country, and likely a top pick in the NBA Draft. He’s Georgia go-to guy this year and had 37 against Michigan State earlier this season. He’s a 31.9% shooter from 3-point range and has the most attempts on the team. I haven’t watched a lot of ESPN other than to watch games but from the little I’ve seen, he’s been getting the “Zion” treatment from them lately.

Junior Forward Rayshaun Hammonds (#20) 13.7 PPG, 8.7 RPG

Hammonds is the only other Georgia player to average in double-figures besides Edwards but leads the team in rebounding. He was huge last Saturday against Memphis putting up 15 points and 12 rebounds in their win at FedEx Forum. Hammonds will be the primary guy to battle with Wiley and McLemore on the interior.

Freshman Guard Sahvir Wheeler (#15) - 8.6 PPG, 5.1 APG

Wheeler is another piece of Georgia’s heralded recruiting class and was originally committed to Texas A&M. before electing to leave Texas after the coaching change. Despite coming off the bench, Wheeler is 3rd in scoring and currently leads the team in assists.

Senior Guard Tyree Crump (#4) - 8.4 PPG

We’ve seen guys that are normally the teams 3rd or 4th primary offensive threat have big games this season. Quite frankly, Crump is due for a breakout game and considering how teams have shot the 3 against Auburn lately (see the Vandy game), this is the guy that concerns me. He’s averaged just 4.5 PPG over the last 4 games but is right behind Edwards in 3-pointer taken this year. Crump’s a senior and won’t be fazed by the environment.

Grad Student Guard Donnell Gresham Jr. (#0) - 6.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG

Gresham came to Athens from Northeastern where he was a career 41.3% 3-point shooter during his time in Boston. So far, he is shooting just 31% from 3 this year and was held scoreless against Kentucky.

What to Look for From Auburn

This is a game for Isaac Okoro to show who truly was the best freshman coming out of Atlanta last year. While Edwards gets all the praise and accolades, Okoro is doing it on both ends of the floor. Okoro is coming off a 23 point game against Vanderbilt and if he can start playing this way on offense consistent, you may look back at this game in a few months and say I saw 2 Top 5 picks play in Auburn Arena on January 11th, 2020.

Overall, Okoro is 2nd on the team averaging 13.6 PPG, but over his last 3 games, he’s averaging 17 PPG, 6 RPG, and he’s 18-24 (75%) from the free throw line. I imagine you’ll see Okoro matched up on Edwards and that’s the matchup I’m most excited about today.

Samir Doughty is still the team’s leading scorer at 15.6 PPG, but he hasn’t looked himself the last few games and his scoring production has gone down as a result. Samir tied his season-low of 6 points on Wednesday and is shooting just 3-21 from 3 over the last 4 games. Samir will snap out of his slump and hopefully that begins today.

Another thing that needs to improve for Auburn is its bench production. In the team’s first 2 SEC games, this has been lacking for Auburn but with J’Von and Okoro having career nights in the first 2 league games, that has helped carry the bench a bit. Auburn had just 2 bench points at Mississippi State and Anfernee McLemore had a season high 14 points against Vanderbilt but he plays about as many minutes as starter Austin Wiley. I look for a guy like Jamal Johnson, who has been really quiet the first 2 SEC games, to step up and hit a couple 3s to give Auburn a spark off the bench.

Prediction

I’m not sure if the game time change will effect either team but it’s a morning game now instead of a late afternoon game. Auburn has been susceptible to some slow starts and Georgia got off to a good start in their last outing against Kentucky. Still, the Tigers defense will keep them in every game, even if they start slow shooting. Auburn is at home, it’s a rivalry game, and the Jungle is going to be extremely loud and intimidating. This will be a battle all the way through but in the end, I think Auburn has enough late to pull out the victory.

Auburn 79 Georgia 72