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GAME RECAP: Auburn 74, Memphis 71

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Justin Powell is officially that dude.

NCAA Basketball: Holiday Hoopsgiving-Memphis at Auburn Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

If I remember my Major League II correctly, that’s two in a row! And now Auburn is just one game short of a winning streak.

For the first time in what feels like forever, Auburn played well away from the friendly confines of Auburn Arena. And when I say “Auburn” played well, I’m mostly referring to Justin Powell.

The freshman point guard started his second game of his young career, and was effectively the only reason Auburn didn’t get boat raced by Memphis early. Powell put up Auburn’s first eleven points as the rest of the offense stagnated, before Jaylin Williams finally broke the seal with a dunk at the 15 minute mark.

The first half was back and forth the entire time, with Memphis briefly stretching the lead to 7 points. However, with a few solid minutes from Javon Franklin, Auburn finished the half just down one.

The second half was more of the same, with both teams struggling to shoot consistently but raking in the offensive rebounds. Neither team could get any separation, as the largest lead of the second half was just four points for both teams until Auburn finally got up five with a minute to go.

At the end of the night, Powell finished with 26 points on 9-13 from the field to go with 8 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and 5 turnovers. While the turnovers were a problem, anyone with eyes could see the offense worked infinitely better with him on the floor.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the point guard rotation, Turbo struggled mightily. In just 7 minutes, the sophomore tallied four points but five turnovers. Teams with similar athletes to Auburn’s will see the tape of this game and be doubling Jones every time he’s on the court going forward. He’s still young and has plenty of time to grow into an SEC point guard, but right now he just isn’t that.

Jaylin Williams struggled to get his jump shot going in this one, but it didn’t matter as he utilized his incredible court vision to the tune of 8 assists and just 1 turnover. I’ve spoken about it in different places the last few weeks, but I’m not convinced he shouldn’t be playing point guard until Sharife is cleared. He’s easily the best passer on the team, and giving him more opportunities to run at defenses in transition should really help this offense.

Overall, this was a good win over a team Auburn was not favored to beat (six point underdog at tipoff). Unless we see something dramatic that allows Auburn to compete in the postseason, winning games like this is what we’ll have to savor this season. While a lot of these true freshmen (and even the sophomores) are still extremely raw, we’re getting to see flashes from all of these guys of the talent the possess. In the perfect world where Sharife Cooper and Jabari Smith (and even Trey Alexander) join this roster before next season, it’s easy to begin day-dreaming about the ceiling of the program. The future is bright, y’all.

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