Usually I don’t use a picture of an opposing player as the header for an Auburn win. But when you score 40 points, you get that distinction.
Down their second leading scorer and getting zero points from their third man, Arkansas leaned heavily on the back of Mason Jones, who had probably the best scoring night I have ever seen.
To counter that, though, Auburn went back to the well that helped them beat Kentucky. That would be Samir Doughty, who has put his mid-January slump in the rear-view mirror over the last four games.
- eFG%: Auburn and Arkansas shot about even yesterday, but the paths to get there were drastically different. Led by efficient nights from Doughty, Okoro, and McLemore, Auburn shot over 20% better from two than Arkansas. Meanwhile, Mason Jones and Desi Sills combined to hit 10 threes for an Arkansas team that has struggled from range all season. In the end, no advantage here for either team.
- FTA/FGA: Auburn, as usual, had a good game getting to the line. Instead of it being one player, though, it was everyone contributing. J’Von McCormick led the team with 9 FTA, but everyone that played except for Devan Cambridge attempted at least one. Arkansas got to the line at a decent clip, but Auburn is now #2 in the country at getting free throws. Advantage Auburn.
- TO Rate: Just like everyone got to the line for Auburn, everyone turned the ball over, too. Sans Jamal Johnson, every player had a turnover, led by Austin Wiley’s 4 in 11 minutes. Credit to Arkansas, though, these were forced by their defense. We knew going in that this is how they were going to attack, and 14 of Auburn’s 18 turnovers were the result of steals by Arkansas. It was a team effort for the Razorbacks, with everyone except for Ethan Henderson (who played 4 min) tallied one. Credit where credit is due. Advantage Arkansas.
- ORB%: This was the difference maker for Auburn. Despite Wiley only seeing the court for 11 minutes due to foul and turnover trouble, Auburn was still +7 on the offensive boards. I was worried about this without the big man, but Auburn’s athleticism from its forwards (McLemore, Okoro, and Purifoy had 26 boards combined) gave Auburn a ton of extra possessions that they lost due to turnovers. Advantage Auburn.
MVP - Samir Doughty: 23 pts/3 reb/2 ast, 8-13 FG, 4-4 FT
- As mentioned earlier, Samir is on a tear right now, averaging 20.3 ppg over his last four. I think it’s become pretty obvious this team needs him to play well to have a good night, but the good thing is he can do different things to different defenses. Play him in man? He’ll find a way to get to the basket and maybe draw a foul while he’s at it. Play zone to keep him away from the basket? He can hit open threes all day. Press him in the backcourt? He’ll turn into a point guard and dish it to the open man. If he’s feeling it, defenses just have to pick the way in which he’ll beat them.
- It’s not good when only five guys have positive offensive value nights. Between Jamal Johnson, Allen Flannigan, and Devan Cambridge, they tallied 5 points on 1-8 shooting, 2 rebounds, 3 turnovers, and 5 fouls in 30 minutes. This has been a concerning trend in the last few weeks, as besides the 26 point game Cambridge had against South Carolina, the trio hasn’t contributed more than 5 combined points since the Alabama game. As good as Auburn’s top six have been this season, the bench behind them has struggled.
- Anfernee McLemore might be making a case for himself to get an NBA look at this rate. The senior has shown the ability to do a little bit of everything this year, and last night was no different. Against the best three point defense in the country, Mac decided to find work inside, going 4-5 from two and picking up 10 rebounds. He now leads the team in eFG%, and his 2P% is top 15 in the country at 69.6%.
- As dominant as Austin Wiley was against Kentucky, the active hands of the Arkansas front court gave him fits last night. With his 73% turnover rate, he was effectively neutralized from the game, so much so that he didn’t even get a field goal attempt off. When Anfernee McLemore fouled out in overtime, it wasn’t Wiley who went back in, it was Allen Flannigan. There’s a chance #50 was sick for this game, as Bruce mentioned a bug was going around the team, but it’s possible Arkansas just had the perfect game plan for him.
- For more digging, here’s the link to the full box score: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15sjDo11lcbOhhGmPT72G7JgqKsLMpWWyd9yCLQ7Xa-U/edit?usp=sharing