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#4 Auburn at Ole Miss Game Preview and Open Thread

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Auburn looks to make it 2 for 2 on the road this week

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday January 15th, 2022

Auburn Tigers at Ole Miss Rebels

Sandy and John Black Pavilion - Oxford, Mississippi

Time: 7:30PM CT

Network: SEC Network, Auburn Radio Network

After a thrilling win Tuesday night in Tuscaloosa, Auburn (15-1, 4-0) looks to keep their winning streak going as they seek a 13th straight win when they take on Ole Miss (9-6, 1-2) tonight in Oxford. Auburn defeated Alabama 81-77 in a game that saw Auburn build a 14-point lead with 8 minutes to go, only for Alabama to respond with a 14-0 run. The game was decided in the final minute with Allen Flanigan calmly making all 4 of his free throw attempts that provided the game’s final margin.

Jabari Smith showed the country why he’s got a great shot at being the top pick in the upcoming NBA Draft going off for a season-high 25 points and 7 rebounds. Wendell Green put on a show in the 2nd half scoring 13 of his 19 points in the final 20 minutes.

With a win tonight, Auburn has a chance to make some major history. With #1 Baylor and #3 UCLA losing earlier this week, there’s a chance Auburn could move up to #2 or even #1 in next week’s AP Poll. Auburn’s highest AP ranking is #2 that’s happened on 3 separate occasions (1958-1959, 1998-1999 & 1999-2000). Auburn has never been ranked #1 in the AP poll but with a win tonight, they should at the very least, receive some #1 votes in the poll.

But before we can worry about all of that, Auburn travels to take on an Ole Miss program who has had a lot of success against Auburn over the past 10 years. Ole Miss is 14-5 against Auburn since the start of the 2011-2012 season. Over the past 4 seasons of Auburn Basketball’s meteoric rise, the teams have gone back and forth at sweeping the series.

Auburn swept the season series during the 2017-2018 and 2019-2020 seasons. Ole Miss swept the season series during the 2018-2019 and 2020-2021 seasons. So if that trend continues, Auburn is poised to sweep this year’s season series.

Get to Know Ole Miss

Ole Miss comes into tonight’s game off a 67-51 loss at Texas A&M, who is the only other undefeated team in the SEC alongside Auburn. On offense, Ole Miss averages 69.2 PPG and allows 64.4 PPG. As a team, they shoot 32.4% from 3. Gone from last year’s team are Devontae Shuler and Romello White who had monster games for Ole Miss the last time these teams faced off against one another.

Ole Miss will be without their leading scorer Jarkel Joiner (#24) who is out the next few weeks due to a back injury. The senior guard is averaging 13.6 PPG so far this season.

With Joiner out, that means the leading scorer that Auburn will face tonight is freshmen guard Daeshun Ruffin (#2). If the name is familiar, its because he was committed to Auburn for a short time back in 2019 before deciding to remain in his home state. The 5’9” guard missed the majority of non-conference play with a broken hand but has played in each of Ole Miss’s 3 SEC games. Ruffin is averaging 11.7 PPG so far this season.

Sophomore Matthew Murrell (#11) has had the hot hand for Ole Miss as he’s averaging 19.7 PPG so far in SEC play including a 31-point outburst last Saturday night in their win over Mississippi State. Murrell is averaging 9.6 PPG and has been the team’s best 3-point shooter as he’s a 42.1% 3-point shooter so far this season.

In the frontcourt is a pair of transfers from ACC schools. First is Duke transfer sophomore Jaemyn Brakefield (#4). Brakefield spent one year in Durham before returning to his home state. This year, he is averaging 9.2 PPG and 4.5 RPG and is shooting 39.1% from 3-point range.

Alongside Brakefield is Miami grad transfer Nysier Brooks (#3). The 7-footer who started his career at Cincinnati, is averaging 9.1 PPG and 8.3 RPG and is the team’s leading shot blocker. Brooks is the only Ole Miss player that has started every game for the team this season.

It will be a Georgia reunion for KD Johnson and Ole Miss guard Tye Fagan (#14) as they’ll face off for the first time since departing Athens. Fagan is averaging 7.2 PPG, shooting 36.4% from 3 and had 23 points in the SEC opener at Tennessee.

Also in the rotation for Ole Miss will be guard Luis Rodriguez (#15) averaging 6.4 PPG, Austin Crowley (#1) averaging 4.2 PPG and Sammy Hunter (#23) averaging less than 2 PPG.

Prediction

Normally I would call this a “trap game” but that would go against the theory of Peacocking right?

Auburn is coming off a hotly contested rivalry win against their in-state rival and tonight Bruce Pearl’s Tigers face a coach who has had a lot of success against Bruce Pearl over the years in Kermit Davis. Ole Miss has had their struggles on offense this year and they don’t have Devontae Shuler to carry them anymore. It also sounds like there will be a large contingent of Orange and Blue in the crowd as well.

I think Auburn has too much firepower on offense and will be able to walk out of Oxford with a victory.

Auburn 75 Ole Miss 62