Date: Tuesday January 28th
Opponent: Ole Miss Rebels
Location: The Pavilion - Oxford, Mississippi
Network: ESPNU, Auburn Radio Network
It’s a big week for Auburn Basketball as they prepare to host College Gameday on campus for the very first time with #13 Kentucky coming to town on Saturday. But first.... the Tigers have to travel to Oxford to take on an Ole Miss team who beat Auburn twice last season.
Ole Miss is 117th in KenPom so this is a game the Tigers need to win to avoid a bad loss. As a team, they average 68.1 PPG while giving up 67 PPG. Ole Miss had a really good game-plan last season to slow down Auburn: they controlled the tempo, took shots late in the shot clock and never let Auburn get into their tempo in either matchup. It’ll be interesting to see how Auburn matches up with Ole Miss this season with Auburn slowing down the tempo and relying much more on the inside game.
Get to Know Ole Miss
Ole Miss has struggled so far in SEC play, losing their first 5 games in the league before winning at Georgia Saturday night. Ole Miss comes in Terence Davis is gone and doing an outstanding job with the Toronto Raptors.
Senior Guard Breein Tyree (#4) - 18.9 PPG
With Davis gone, this has become Tyree’s team. In SEC play, he is averaging 25.4 PPG including a career high 36 against LSU a couple of weeks ago. Tyree is a 36% 3-point shooter this season and overall, he has almost 100 more shot attempts than the next closest Ole Miss player. He was great last year in the matchup in Auburn Arena scoring 20 points but just had 5 in the team’s game in Oxford last year.
Sophomore Forward Blake Hinson (#0) - 10.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG
Hinson missed the first 4 games of the season but is now the team’s 2nd leading scorer behind Tyree. Hinson is shooting 32.9% from 3-point range and, behind Tyree, has the 2nd most 3-point attempts for Ole Miss. In 6 SEC games so far, Hinson is averaging 9.5 PPG.
Sophomore Forward KJ Buffen (#5) - 10.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG
Buffen had one of his best games as a freshman against Auburn last year, scoring 16 off the bench in the team’s win in Oxford. He is team’s leading rebounder and has risen his scoring average from 6 to 10 this season. Auburn has done for the most part in slowing down team’s leading scorer but other team’s 2nd or 3rd leading scorers have done damage. Buffen is the guy I would keep an eye on tonight.
Junior Guard Devontae Shuler (#2) - 9.9 PPG
Shuler had 14 and 17 points in 2 matchups against Auburn last year including 4 3-pointers in the matchup in Auburn. As I recall, most of them were in late shot clock situations as well. Shuler leads the team in assists and is a 31.9% 3-point shooter this season.
Junior Forward Khadim Sy (#3) - 8.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG
This is Sy’s first year at Ole Miss after spending a year at Virginia Tech and then a year at Junior College. He was the Number 3 ranked JUCO Prospect in last year’s class. He’s 6’10” but has the ability to stretch the floor. On Saturday, he scored his SEC high of 16 points.
Keys for Auburn
Auburn did something on Saturday that they haven’t done a lot this year, and that’s get off to a good start. Can they do that again and not allow Ole Miss to get into the game? A couple of 3s early could be key in that. Of bigger concern is how Auburn is finishing games lately. Against South Carolina, Auburn didn’t score in the game’s last 5:23. Against Iowa State, the Tigers led 76-62 with 3:36 to go and the Cyclones finished the game on a 14-4 run, cutting Auburn’s lead down to 4 which is what the final margin ended up being.
Start Strong, Finish Strong!
Isaac Okoro posted his 2nd highest scoring output of the season leading the Tigers with 19 points on Saturday against the Cyclones. Okoro’s aggressiveness in getting into the paint was a huge difference in the game and it’s something I’m hoping we’ll see more of as we come down the stretch.
Samir Doughty had 18 points on Saturday and is showing signs of life of coming out of the slump he had earlier this month. Auburn will need he and McCormick to play well in an SEC road environment, something they struggled in the last 2 times Auburn played away from Auburn Arena.
As I said in the beginning, one of the biggest challenges of tonight will be to not look ahead to what’s to come on Saturday. While Ole Miss has struggled this season, it comes into tonight’s game with some momentum winning on the road in Athens. The Tigers will have their hands full trying to slow down Tyree but if they can do that and force others to try and beat them, this is a game Auburn should and really needs to win. Road wins in the SEC are very important and this is a great opportunity to get one.
Auburn 74 Ole Miss 68