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Ole Miss at Auburn Game Preview and Open Thread

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Tigers look to bounce back after 2 tough losses

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday February 6, 2021

Ole Miss Rebels at Auburn Tigers

Auburn Arena

Time: 3PM

Network: ESPN2, Auburn Radio Network

After a disappointing loss Tuesday night to Georgia, the Tigers (10-9, 4-6) have a chance to avenge one of their earlier losses today in Auburn Arena. Auburn fell 72-61 at Ole Miss (9-8, 4-6) back on January 6th. It was Auburn’s last game before Sharife Cooper was declared eligible just in time for the Alabama game. It was also the first game Auburn was without Justin Powell and so the Tigers were so shorthanded at guard that walk-on Lior Berman had to play several minutes in both halves. He held his own but having neither Cooper or Powell made life tough on the Tigers.

Since Sharife was declared eligible 4 weeks ago, Auburn has gone 4-4 with Tuesday’s night being arguably one of the toughest losses of the year as Georgia had 52 points in the paint, and had more energy than the Tigers throughout the contest. I feel pretty confident Auburn will come out with more energy in this one.

Let’s Get Re-Acquainted with Ole Miss

The Rebels have been fairly inconsistent all season long but come into today’s game off a huge win over Tennessee Tuesday night. They also beat Mississippi State in Starkville by 18 but were swept by Georgia this season and have scored 64 or less in each of their last 5 games. With Auburn’s issues on defense lately, this might be the game they break that streak though. Auburn gave up way too many easy looks Tuesday night to Georgia and an experienced Ole Miss can take advantage of that as well.

In the previous matchup between these two teams, 7 Ole Miss players scored at least 7 points as their win over Auburn was a balanced attack. The Ole Miss bench outscored Auburn’s 34-9 in the game, one of the biggest differences in the contest.

Today is the final time Auburn will face senior guard Devontae Shuler (#2) who leads Ole Miss averaging 14.9 PPG. Shuler was more of a facilitator against Auburn as while he was held to 7 points, he dished out 10 assists. Shuler is a 33% 3-point shooter as well.

Junior guard Jarkel Joiner (#24) is the team’s 2nd leading scorer averaging 10.8 PPG. He did most of his damage from the free throw line last time as he made all 6 free throws in a 9 point outing last month.

Grad transfer forward Romello White (#0) is averaging 10 PPG and 5.5 RPG this season. He had 12 points in the win over the Tigers last month.

Junior forward KJ Buffen (#5) missed the Tennessee game on Tuesday and we’ll see if he plays today for Ole Miss. He is averaging 8.6 PPG this season and had 7 points against Auburn last month.

Sophomore forward Luis Rodriguez (#15) had a SEC-high 12 points against Auburn last month. Rodriguez also pulled down 7 rebounds and is averaging 7.6 PPG this season along with a team leading 6.4 RPG.

Despite averaging just 2.9 PPG, sophomore guard Austin Crowley (#1) had 8 points and 10 rebounds in the teams last meeting. Crowley hasn’t played much the last 5 games but after a near double-double last time out, he’s someone that could make an impact today as well.

Speaking of bench guys who saved one of their best games for when they faced Auburn, senior forward Khadim Sy (#3) came off the bench to lead Ole Miss that night with a season-high 13 points and made all 3 of his 3-point attempts. In the 12 other games he’s played in this year, he’s made just one 3-pointer. He’s had just 3 games this season where he has scored than 6 points this year and averaging just 3.1 PPG this season.

What to Watch from Auburn

Surprisingly in the first matchup between these two teams, 3s weren’t as a big of an issue as they have been in some games as the Tigers knocked down 10 3s. One of the things they didn’t do well: get to the free throw line. Auburn only got to the free throw line 9 times as well, well below the season average of 15.5 times per game.

Jaylin Williams had a career high 24 points against Ole Miss last time and was one of the few bright spots on the night. He was 6-10 from 3-point range on the night and has played well in the last 2 games for Auburn as he’s averaged 19 PPG and 6.5 RPG. Can Jaylin keep the momentum going today will be key for Auburn.

As we mentioned earlier, Sharife Cooper didn’t play in the first matchup but this will be an interesting matchup against a really good defensive team. Cooper came an assist of his 3rd double-double Tuesday night going for 19 points and 9 assists. He’s averaging 21 PPG and 8.3 APG in the 8 games he’s played in.

I’m looking for a bounce back game from J.T. Thor who had a tough time against Georgia scoring just 4 points. He had averaged 12.8 PPG in his last 4 games and it was his lowest point total of his SEC career.

Speaking of bounce backs, Jamal Johnson had one against Georgia. After 5 straight double-figure scoring outputs to start league play, Johnson had averaged just 3.6 PPG in his next 5 games before scoring 13 against Georgia Tuesday night. The Tigers need a consistent shooter and hopefully Jamal’s game Tuesday will get him going in the right direction.

Prediction

Tuesday night felt like one of the few times this year that Auburn wasn’t ready to play. They didn’t play with the normal energy they did and when Georgia has the most energy in Auburn Arena, it’s going to be a tough night and the Bulldogs answered every challenge the Tigers threw their way in the second half.

Today’s a chance to right the ship and get back to their winning ways. I think having Sharife for this one will be a huge boost and while I’m tempting fate (again), I think Auburn gets back into the win column today.

Auburn 73 Ole Miss 68