Tuesday November 9th, 2021
Morehead State Eagles at Auburn Tigers
Network: ESPN+, Auburn Radio Network
249 days after Auburn defeated Mississippi State for Bruce Pearl’s 600th career win, Auburn Basketball is back!
The Tigers begin their 2021-2022 season hosting Morehead State, the defending OVC Tournament Champions. This will be the first time the teams have ever faced off against each other. Expectations for this Auburn team are enormous as this is poised to be one of Auburn’s most talented teams ever assembled. They will get a nice early test from a team that won 23 games last season and return a big man who has put himself on the radar of a lot of NBA teams.
Get to Know Morehead State
The Eagles were 23-8 overall last season, 17-3 in the OVC (2nd behind Belmont) and defeated Belmont in the OVC Title game to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles were a #14 seed in last year’s tournament and lost to West Virginia in the 1st Round.
The Eagles are picked to finish 2nd in the OVC this season. They surprised many last season after being picked to finish 8th in the conference last year. A big reason why? 6-10 forward Johni Broome who burst onto the scene last season claiming multiple accolades including OVC Freshmen of the Year, 1st-Team all OVC and OVC Tournament MVP.
Broome averaged 13.8 PPG and 9 RPG and 2 BPG last season. He put up double-doubles in each of the Eagles 3 OVC Tournament games including a 27 point, 12 rebound performance in the OVC Title game. Broome averaged 19.3 PPG and 12 RPG in the OVC Tournament.
He’s received a lot of comparisons to former Morehead State great Kenneth Faried and is the OVC Preseason Co-Player of the Year.
Johni Broome is one of on three division I freshmen to lead his team in points, rebounds and blocked shots. Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson and USC’s Evan Mobley are the others. Morehead State’s 6-10 rookie is in good company. #HeCanPlay @MSUEaglesMBB @OVCSports pic.twitter.com/1edie1eFoq— College Insider Inc. (@collegeinsider) March 13, 2021
Broome was one of 2 players from the OVC last season named to the Kyle Macy Freshman All-American Team last season. The other? That would be current Auburn Point Guard Wendell Green Jr.
Also returning from last year’s team is Junior Guard Skyelar Potter (#5). He was 3rd last year in scoring at 12 PPG and 5.8 RPG and made 61 3s last season, shooting 38.9% from distance. Also back is Sophomore guard Ta’lon Cooper who shot 38.8% from 3 last season and averaged 8.2 PPG. The Eagles big offseason addition was graduate student guard Tray Hollowell, from Wofford. Hollowell returns to his home state after averaging 11.1 PPG in his senior season with the Terriers.
Keys for Auburn
This is a great season opening test for Bruce Pearl’s Tigers. Broome vs Jabari Smith will be the battle I’m most focused on tonight. Smith making his much anticipated collegiate debut against one of the best mid-major big men from last season. How Auburn deals with Broome in the paint will go a long way into how this games turns out. In the backcourt, Zep Jasper will likely be tasked with keeping up with Potter, a dymanic 3-point scorer. We’ve heard a lot of preseason buzz about the College of Charleston transfer and excited to see him play for the first time tonight as well.
It doesn’t sound like the starting lineup was completely set in stone after Friday’s exhibition game so who starts and who plays where will be another primary thing I’m watching tonight. The Tigers will play 10-11 guys and have several players who have the ability to take over a game. Wendell Green Jr. has some familiarity with the Eagles as he faced them 3 times last season.
Over those 3 games, Green averaged 18 PPG and 5 APG while scoring 29 against the Eagles in the OVC Semifinal loss to Morehead State.
It will be great to see all of the newcomers mesh with the returning players and see how they play as a team.
I think tonight is one of the better under the radar games of the opening night slate. Morehead State is experienced and is coming off a great season. Auburn has loads of talent and look to bounce back after a disappointing season. I think this game will be close throughout the majority of the contest but Auburn makes enough plays down the stretch to pull away for an opening night win.
Auburn 79 Morehead State 67