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#13 Auburn at Georgia Game Preview and Open Thread

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Auburn looks to keep pace with Kentucky as they travel to Athens.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Wednesday February 19th

Opponent: Georgia Bulldogs

Location: Stegeman Coliseum - Athens, Georgia

Time: 6PM

Network: ESPN2, Auburn Radio Network

It was a tough Saturday in Columbia, Missouri for Auburn where the Tigers fell for only the 3rd time this season. Fortunately for them, many teams around them in the Top 25 lost this past week as well so Auburn only dropped 2 spots in the polls. Auburn missed Isaac Okoro who traveled to Athens with the team but no word yet on whether or not he will play tonight.

The last time Auburn went to Athens, this happened sparking a run that Auburn fans will talk about as long as they live.

Until 2 years ago, Auburn hadn’t beaten Georgia twice in a year since the 1985-1986 season. Tonight they look for their 3rd straight sweep of Georgia and 6th straight win in the series. It’s the longest win streak over Georgia since winning 12 in a row in the late 1970s.

Get to Know Georgia (again)

Things have not gone the way folks envisioned they would in Athens this season. Georgia sits at 12-13 overall and 2-10 in the SEC and have lost 4 in a row.

When these two teams last played on January 11th, an 82-60 Auburn win, Georgia was 19-50 from the field, 5-19 from 3 and 16-33 from the free throw line. As we’ve learned though throughout the year, everyone is getting Auburn’s best shot and I expect this game to be much closer than the one in Auburn.

Anthony Edwards only has 3 more games left in Athens before he likely heads to the NBA to become a lottery pick. Saturday’s loss at Texas A&M saw Edwards tie his career low with 6 points. With that said, you have to believe he’ll have a bounce back game tonight. He is averaging 19 PPG and 5.3 RPG this year and had 18 in the first game between these 2 squads. It will be interesting to see how Auburn’s defense matches up with him tonight, especially if Okoro is unable to go for Auburn.

Junior forward Rayshaun Hammonds continues to have a solid year for Georgia averaging 12.5 PPG along with 7.2 RPG. Hammonds had 12 points and 9 rebounds in the first game.

Freshmen guard Sahvir Wheeler has become Georgia’s 3rd leading scorer averaging 8.6 PPG including a career high 24 against Alabama a couple weeks ago. Wheeler has struggled with turnovers as he’s had 4 or more turnovers in each of his last 5 games.

With Auburn’s struggles with perimeter defense especially lately, senior guard Tyree Crump is a player that concerns as other than Edwards, he has the most 3-pointers for Georgia this year. Crump didn’t score in the game in Auburn.

Keys for Auburn

Tonight was expected to be the night that Isaac Okoro returned to play in his home state for the first time as a college player. Unless his injury status changes and he’s able to play, that will not happen. However, tonight will give one Auburn player one final chance to play against his home state team. That would be Anfernee McLemore who had 12 points and 6 rebounds in the Tigers win on January 11th and he tends to always play well against the Dawgs.

Another player who had a good game against Georgia last month against Georgia was Allen Flanigan, who made his first career start on Saturday against Missouri. Like McLemore, he also had 12 points and 6 rebounds against Georgia. Flanigan played well on Saturday despite not scoring and Auburn needs more from him this evening.

Austin Wiley has been on a mission here recently picking up his 11th double-double of the season against Missouri on Saturday. Austin had a season high 22 points to go with his 10 rebounds and was the focal point of Auburn’s offense, especially with the Tigers going just 1-17 from 3 Saturday. Since going scoreless at Arkansas, Austin has averaged 17.7 PPG and 13.3 RPG in his last 3 games, all double-doubles.

Prediction

This is a must-win game for Auburn if they have any aspirations of staying in the running for a SEC Regular Season title. Kentucky took care of business last night against LSU and leads Auburn by a game and a half going into tonight. Auburn has to knock down some 3s tonight, something they weren’t able to do on Saturday. If Auburn can do that, I like the Tigers chances. But Auburn has to do a much better job of defending the 3 and despite Georgia’s low shooting % from 3, that hasn’t seemed to bother Auburn foes recently. It’s going to take a special effort but I believe that this Auburn team will bounce back from Saturday’s defeat and get back in the winning column.

Auburn 76 Georgia 70