Before we recap this game, we just want to say that it’s the greatest hope of everyone here on this here website that the NCAA gets to experience the repercussions of its own actions. Once everyone realizes that its power is neutralized, they’ll realize that they don’t have to listen to the NCAA’s idiotic rulings and non-sensible laws.
Sharife Cooper balled out again tonight, this time getting Auburn its first conference win of the season in a 95-77 demolition of Georgia in Athens. Cooper notched his first double-double of his storied career (two games) and again provided the different spark and element to this Auburn offense that was missing for the first eleven games of the season.
The 95-77 victory was a follow-up to his debut in the loss to Alabama, and this time he made everyone even better. After a 26-point, 9-assist outing on Saturday, Cooper went for 28 points and 12 assists tonight, while helping five other Tigers hit double digits as well.
Auburn started off hot in this one, running out to a 16-6 lead with six different players scratching the scorebook in the first seven minutes. Georgia fought back, however, and the combo of K.D. Johnson and Sahvir Wheeler pulled the Bulldogs within a 23-21 deficit at the eight-minute mark of the first half. In a game of runs, Auburn responded and built back the lead at the foul line before an Allen Flanigan three-pointer and a Stretch Akingbola bucket gave the Tigers their double-digit lead back at 38-27. In the final two minutes, Auburn continued to stretch the lead to the largest margin of the game at 45-29, but Georgia fought back to close the gap to a 45-34 difference at halftime.
After the intermission, Georgia put together a small spurt to close within two possessions after Toumani Camara completed an old-fashioned three point play, but Auburn shut the door after that. The Tigers posted together a a 22-3 run over the next several minutes, and led 67-44 at the midway point of the second half. The 23-point margin would turn out to be the largest of the game, and the Bulldogs never mustered a true answer. The closest that Georgia would get the rest of the way was 14 points at an 82-68 game a few moments later. In the end, the Tigers were able to cruise to an easy win and get their first conference victory of the season.
Auburn’s height in this game was one of the most imposing factors in the defense playing so well, as the Tigers gathered 14 blocks, the most in Division I this season. In addition, the free throw shooting was another bright spot, with Auburn 20-26 at the line, and while the threes weren’t falling (5-20 on the night), Auburn notched 58 points in the paint tonight.
Sharife Cooper is now averaging 27 points per game along with 10.5 assists per game as well, and he was featured by Bruce Pearl down the stretch as he padded those stats. The team is much more oiled with him leading the charge, as Devan Cambridge, J.T. Thor, Allen Flanigan, Jaylin Williams, and Jamal Johnson all hit double digits on the evening. What’s more is that in two games with Cooper on the floor, the Tigers have scored 90 and 95 points in regulation. Up next, it’ll be a huge matchup with Kentucky at home this Saturday, and hopefully Kentucky native Justin Powell will be ready to play. He was cleared for tonight, but didn’t play, so you can bet that Bruce is getting him prepared for his first game back to be against his home state team.