Thursday November 26th
Auburn vs Saint Joseph’s
Network: Fox Sports 1, Auburn Radio Network
First of all, Happy Thanksgiving everybody! We’ve made it folks!
37 weeks and 259 days ago today, we got word that the 2020 SEC Tournament and 2020 NCAA Tournament were cancelled and the season came to an quick and abrupt end. Today, that long and arduous layoff comes to a close as the Tigers return to the court for the first time since March 7th, a 22-point win over Tennessee.
There’s been a lot of changes for Auburn over the last 8 months. The Tigers lost all 5 of their starters from last year. Then, Auburn self-imposed a postseason ban on Sunday stemming from the Chuck Person FBI issues from 2017. Then, word came out that Sharife Cooper had not been cleared by the NCAA yet and we continue to wait for a ruling on his eligibility.
While the off the court stuff has been all over the news, it’s finally time to see what this team will look like on the floor this season. Auburn won’t have to worry about bubbles or postseason aspirations this season but that doesn’t take away from how exciting it will be to watch this young group of Tigers play this season.
First up, the Tigers play Saint Joseph’s in the Fort Myers Tip-Off in Fort Myers, Florida. These two teams have played twice before with Auburn winning both games. The last meeting also happened in Florida, Tampa to be exact, as Auburn won 65-63 in OT in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. That Auburn team, was the last to make the NCAA Tournament before the 2017-2018 version and Marquis Daniels led Auburn with 25 points in that contest.
Get to Know Saint Joseph’s
ICYMI, check out our Q&A with Saint Joseph’s earlier this week.
The Hawks were 6-26 last season under new Head Coach Billy Lange. Lange has brought in a bunch of new players to better fit his style of play and the Hawks look to take a big step forward this season. Last season, Saint Joseph’s attempted 49.7% of their overall shots from 3. However, they shot just 29.7% as a team from 3 last season. They also had 20 more turnovers than total assists last season.
While there are a lot of new faces in Philadelphia this year, one returning Hawk was the leading scorer in Atlantic 10 last season.
Senior Guard Ryan Daly (#1) averaged 20.6 PPG last season after playing his first 2 seasons at Delaware. He scored at least 20 points in 13 of St. Joseph’s 18 conference games last season. He shot 31.1% from 3 last season and led the team in rebounds (6.8 RPG), steals, and assists.
Sophomore guard Cameron Brown (#3) was the only other player to average double digits in scoring last season (10.1 PPG). Like Daly, Brown also shot 31.1% from 3 last season.
At Point Guard, the Hawks are expected to start sophomore guard Greg Foster Jr. (5). Foster will make his Saint Joseph’s debut after sitting out last season after transferring from Gonzaga.
In the frontcourt, are junior forward Myles Douglas (#2) and junior forward Taylor Funk (#33). Douglas, who started his career at UCF, was an 87% free throw shooter last season. Funk only played in 7 games last year due to injury.
Keys for Auburn
As for Auburn, the biggest question will be how do the Tigers replace Sharife Cooper who did not make the trip to Fort Myers as Auburn awaits clearance regarding Cooper’s eligibility.
Justin Powell and Turbo Jones are the two guys that will have to fill the void left with Cooper’s absence. Powell is my biggest wild card on this year’s team as he’s missed most of the last 2 years due to eligibility issues and injuries. The Kentucky native is an excellent 3-point shooter and will be asked to do much more than anticipated at the outset of the season. Turbo played sparingly in his first season in Auburn as he sat behind J’Von McCormick and Samir Doughty last season.
The other question will be who starts up front alongside Jaylin Williams. Either Stretch Akingbola and JT Thor should get the nod here as Auburn will have some major athleticism out on the floor with any lineup that consists of Williams, Thor and Devan Cambridge.
There are so many unknowns in 2020 and this basketball team is no exception.
How will they respond after the postseason ban?
Who will step up with Sharife Cooper out?
Who will take the reins as the on-court leader?
We’ll start finding these answers out today but I think Auburn will respond well in this one. I think this will be a relatively close game throughout but I think the Tigers find a way to win this game late.
Auburn 78 Saint Joseph’s 71