Oh, you thought all that crap yesterday from the NCAA and Pat Forde would affect this team?
Not on your life.
Even without head coach Bruce Pearl, who I hope was tying one on and firing off incendiary tweets from an alter, the Tigers had zero trouble with Nebraska at the Holiday Hoopsgiving event in Atlanta, winning 99-68 and making a fun show of the victory in the process.
The Tigers got double digits from five players, including a game-high 21 points from Jabari Smith, and routed the Cornhuskers by double digits in both halves on way to their 8th victory of the season. Auburn forced 20 turnovers, including 16 steals, and showed off with some breakaway alley oops down the stretch to give the crowd a thrill at State Farm Arena.
Kevin Durant at an Auburn Basketball game. Incredible pic.twitter.com/0oye3aucBT— Suni Lee County Residents (@CollegeAndMag) December 11, 2021
While Kevin Durant got a little scouting work in on Jabari Smith, who he’ll definitely see in the NBA next season, Auburn opened the scoring on a three-pointer from Smith, and the two teams battled over the first few minutes before the Tigers opened things up. With Nebraska ahead 7-6 (their only lead of the game), Auburn hit a 17-2 run that included threes from Wendell Green, Jr. and Lior Berman to go up 23-9 just after the under-12 break. The Tigers continued to pile it on, with a Jabari Smith three giving Auburn a 31-13 lead at the 9:14 mark of the half. With about five minutes remaining in the first half, Auburn hit the 20-point advantage on a Walker Kessler layup as the Tigers led 40-19. Nebraska cut into the margin in the closing moments of the first half, and pulled within a 45-28 score at the intermission.
After halftime, Smith opened the scoring with another three to reestablish the Tiger 20-point edge, and the rout continued from there. If ever there was a chance for Nebraska to try and make a move, it was cut down when you could see how much fun the Tigers were having while lobbing alley-oops to Devan Cambridge on back to back trips down the floor. Check out the fantastic camera work from Mrs. Prewett below:
Wendell Green hit consecutive threes midway through the half to put Auburn ahead 68-47, and then hit another after Zep Jasper buried a triple to build a 27-point Tiger margin at the nine-minute mark. A few minutes later, the Tigers hit their biggest lead of the game when Green picked off a lazy pass and left it off the glass for Smith to bring the roof down.
Auburn is just TOYING with Nebraska pic.twitter.com/KJxgPCc6HD— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) December 11, 2021
From there, Auburn cruised to the 31-point win to improve to 8-1 on the year with North Alabama comin in to Auburn Arena on Tuesday night.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
- 50-40-90 watch continues for Jabari Smith, after he went 7-13 from the floor today with a 3-6 performance from deep. He also hit 4-4 free throws. Coming in he was hitting 46.3% overall, with a 43.9% rate from three, and an 82.9% rate from the foul line.
- Smith is hitting 43.9% from downtown, Bryce Brown hit 41.0% from three during the 2018-2019 season during which Auburn was the best team in the country at hitting threes.
- With three-point shooting overall, this team almost seems like it’s starting to lean into that Final Four dynamic. They went 14-31 today from the perimeter, after the 2019 team averaged 11.5 makes on 29 attempts throughout the season. Wendell Green, Zep Jasper, Devan Cambridge, and Lior Berman all had multiple makes from distance today, and they’re all getting into a serious groove.
- Defensively, Auburn was able to create a ton of points. 27 fastbreak points, 30 points off turnovers overall. They had 16 steals, and Nebrasketball couldn’t do anything against the size and length of the Tigers around the floor.
Auburn will host North Alabama at 8 pm CST on Tuesday, December 14th. The Lions are 6-3 overall, and have won five games in a row after starting the year at 1-3.