Saturday December 11th, 2021
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Auburn Tigers
State Farm Arena - Atlanta
Time: 10:30AM CT
Network: ESPN2, Auburn Radio Network
Well yesterday was certainly eventful and while I’m not going to talk much about here because this is a game preview, I’ll just say this and this only: thank goodness we can finally put this thing behind us.
Auburn looks to turn the page as they head up Interstate 85 to Atlanta to participate in Holiday Hoopsgiving for the 2nd straight season. Last season, they knocked off Memphis. Today, they tip things off for the day’s event as they take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
With Auburn recruiting focused heavily on the Atlanta area, it’s great for the Tigers to be able to play a “home game” for several players on the roster as 6 Auburn players will play in their home state today. While Auburn played games in Birmingham over the years, it makes more sense to keep playing in Atlanta with all of the Georgia connections this team has.
Surely it won’t be talked about much on the broadcast (wishful thinking of course) but with yesterday’s news, Coach Bruce Pearl will not coach today or Tuesday against North Alabama as part of the punishments handed out yesterday. Instead, Wes Flanigan will handle head coaching duties today.
Auburn has had a week off after an impressive 86-64 win last Saturday against Yale. It was a solid team effort all the way across the board with several players having good contributions. It was also a chance for some of the second unit to get more playing time as well which should be beneficial as SEC play is right around the corner.
It’ll certainly be different without BP on the sidelines but Flanigan has Head Coaching experience and hopefully the Tigers will respond well with a likely very-pro Auburn crowd backing them.
Get to Know Nebraska
It’s another first-time opponent for Auburn as the two teams have never met on the hardwood. Nebraska comes into this game 5-5 and you probably think this team isn’t very good but their last 3 games were a 4 Overtime loss at N.C. State, a loss at Indiana and a home loss to Michigan.
Nebraska comes into today’s game averaging 76.1 PPG and allows 75.3 PPG. They shoot just 25.4% from 3 but we all know how that goes when teams play Auburn.
The Cornhuskers have a pair of guards that will be a tough challenge for the Tigers today. First up is grad transfer Alonzo Verge Jr. (#1) who came to Lincoln after playing at Arizona State. Verge has been a huge pickup for Fred Hoiberg’s team averaging 16.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 5.6 APG so far this season.
The other guard is freshmen Bryce McGowens (#5) who will be playing close to home today as he’s a native of South Carolina. McGowens and Jabari Smith are 2nd and 3rd in the country in scoring average for true freshmen. Smith is 2nd averaging 16.9 PPG while McGowens is 3rd averaging 16.4 PPG. Only Duke’s Paolo Banchero is averaging more PPG so far this season (17.8 PPG). McGowens also averages 6.8 RPG as well.
Nebraska’s frontcourt is led by junior forward Derrick Walker (#13) who is averaging 9 PPG and 6 RPG so far this season. Walker, who’s 3rd on the team in scoring, is a former SEC player as he began his career at Tennessee.
Sophomore guard Keisei Tominaga (#30) is averaging 8.2 PPG and has the most 3-pointers made and attempted for Nebraska this year. Tominaga made 5 3-pointers against both South Dakota and North Carolina State.
I think Auburn will respond well with Flanigan leading the way today and I’m sure the team is fired up to get back onto the court. This is essentially a home game for Auburn with a large crowd of Auburn fans expected in the State Farm Arena. The early start is probably my biggest concern as is the health of Walker Kessler but if Auburn takes advantage in the frontcourt, then I feel good about Auburn’s chances today.