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Auburn vs #1 Gonzaga Game Preview and Open Thread

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No rest for the weary...

Chris Tilley

Friday November 27th, 2020

Auburn Tigers vs #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs

Time: 10AM

Network: FOX, Auburn Radio Network

After an Overtime wiunds n over Saint Joseph’s, the Tigers have very little time to rest up as they prepare to take on the #1 team in America this morning in Fort Myers.

Auburn will also make some history over the next two days.

For the first time ever, a school will face the #1 team in America in both basketball and football on consecutive days. (Of course Auburn would be the first to do this).

This is the first ever meeting between Auburn and Gonzaga and if you missed it earlier this week, we spoke with The Slipper Still Fits to talk about Gonzaga.

Get to Know Gonzaga

Offensively, this team is absolutely loaded, and that’s evident based on their 102 point explosion against Kansas yesterday. Coach Pearl said postgame that this team has 6 NBA guys on the roster.

Sophomore Forward Drew Timme (#2) led the Zags with 25 points and 6 rebounds yesterday. He was a five-star recruit coming out of Texas and came on strong late last season. Timme averaged around 10 PPG last season and he’s being asked to take on the role left by Filip Petrusev who elected to turn pro after last season.

Freshman Point Guard Jalen Suggs is going to be a star this season. The highest recruit in program history, Suggs scored 24 in his collegiate debut and also dished out 8 assists. It’s a shame the NCAA doesn’t like to see their stars play or else we could have had a helluva battle between Suggs and Sharife Cooper today.

The returning leading scorer from last year’s team, senior Forward Corey Kispert (#24) could have left Spokane after last year but decided to stick around for one more season. Kispert is an excellent 3-point shooter as he shot 43.8% from 3 last season and averaged about 14 PPG. He scored in double figures in 26 of Gonzaga’s 33 games last season. Kispert had 23 points yesterday for Gonzaga.

A name familiar to Auburn fans is Junior Guard Andrew Nembhard (#3) who transferred to Gonzaga after playing his first two seasons at Florida. Nembhard was declared eligible earlier this week and he had quite an impact in his debut yesterday scoring 11 points off the bench. Nembhard averaged 11.2 PPG at Florida last year and his addition makes the Gonzaga backcourt even deeper than it already was.

Junior Shooting Guard Joel Ayayi (#11) had 15 points and 9 rebounds yesterday. The native of France averaged 10.6 PPG and 6.3 RPG last season. Ajayi improved leaps and bounds from his first two years in Spokane last season and looks to take another step this season.

Keys for Auburn

Auburn was just 9-32 from 3-point range yesterday. I honestly think that Auburn has to make at least 15 3s today to have a chance to pull the upset. But Justin Powell looked really good in his Auburn debut yesterday, scoring 17 points and 7 rebounds while knocking down a team high 3 3-pointers. If the Tigers can get Cooper back, he would make quite the backcourt duo with Sharife or become quite a Sixth man if you elect to bring him off the bench as the Tigers did in the opener.

Turbo Jones also played well in his first career start scoring 11 points and knocked down a couple of 3s. The Point Guards for Auburn yesterday combined for 28 points and had just 2 turnovers. Auburn needs something similar or maybe more today.

Jaylin Williams made winning plays in clutch situations. In the final 4 minutes of a 1-point game, I was wondering who would be the guy to step up late and potentially emerge as the go-to guy. Jaylin answered the bell yesterday as his dunk got the Tigers to Overtime and he had the last two buckets for Auburn in OT, the game-winners on his way to a career high in both points (18) and rebounds (11), his first career double.

I thought Devan Cambridge tried to do a little too much yesterday (only 1-9 from 3) but he also had his first career double-double. Auburn needs a game like he had against South Carolina and LSU last year where he hit 7-8 3-pointers. It’s going to take that today.

Prediction

I think this team had some really good moments yesterday but this is definitely several steps up in competition today. They also had some moments that will frustrate but this is what we should expect this season. There will be growing pains. Auburn has nothing to lose in this game as the Zags are a heavy favorite in this one. Ultimately, I just think Gonzaga has too many weapons offensively for Auburn to be able to slow all of them down. For Auburn, this should be a great learning experience win or lose as they learn to play with each other and get better before SEC play.

Gonzaga 97 Auburn 83