GAME 02: Friday, November 11th, 2022
#15 Auburn Tigers vs USF Bulls
Neville Arena - Auburn, AL
Time: 7:00 pm CST/8:00 pm EST
Network: SEC Network+/ESPN+, Auburn Radio Network
Betting Odds: Auburn -20.0, Over/Under 134.0 via Draft Kings Sportsbook
(Odds/lines subject to change. Visit DraftKings for more information.)
Hey, we’re off and running!
Auburn took care of business pretty easily in the season opener on Monday night against George Mason, winning 70-52 and showing off the defense that should be this team’s true identity.
The Tigers led by as many as 18 points in the first half before the Patriots made a small run to pull within a 31-24 halftime deficit, but Auburn pulled away in the second half and cruised to the victory in the end. Usual suspects Wendell Green and K.D. Johnson hit double-digit scoring, while newcomer Johni Broome may have been the biggest story. Broome scored 12 points on 5-11 shooting, added 6 boards and 4 blocks as Auburn picked right up where they left off in leading the land in blocked shots last season. Broome’s defensive moves otherwise were a pleasant surprise, as he smothered the Patriots’ leading scorer Josh Oduro, holding him to less than 50% of his season average from last year.
Now, we’ll need to see that defense continue to show up every night while the Tigers figure out the rotation that works best (Bruce played everyone and in every combination on Monday night), and also figure out how to get some production from the three-point line. Auburn was an icy cold 4-25 from deep, and while they didn’t need those points, we’re going to run into someone that just gets hot from the perimeter.
The only missing piece in the rotation from Monday is Chance Westry, who underwent surgery a couple months ago, but Bruce Pearl said that he went full-speed in practice this week and should be back very soon. He would add an offensive piece to the team that they will likely need.
Tonight, it’s USF. Auburn took on the Bulls at their place around this time last year, and scraped by with a 58-52 win. In that victory, K.D. Johnson led the way with 15 points, Zep Jasper added 13, and Jabari Smith was held to just 9 points early in his career. Still, Auburn’s defense was able to hold the Bulls to just 35% from the floor.
Gone for USF are Caleb Murphy and Javon Greene, who combined for 34 of the Bulls’ 52 points a year ago, and taking their place are some experienced older players like Russel Tchewa, a 7’0 Texas Tech transfer at center, and Keyshawn Bryant, who scored 19 points to lead the way in their opening loss to SEMO on Monday night.
While USF wasn’t a big three-point shooting team last year, it’s not for lack of trying in 2022 based on their opener. They went just 4-19 from downtown in their 64-61 loss, where you imagine a slightly better performance from deep would’ve helped on the way to a potential win. Bryant did hit 3-5 deep shots, but Tyler Harris went 0-8, Jamir Chaplin went 0-2, and Ryan Conwell went just 1-4 from three. Those were the only players to take any shots from outside, and otherwise they were content to feed the ball inside.
While they lost, their strategy looked a lot like Auburn’s on Monday night, they just weren’t nearly as good at doing it. Aside from the poor shooting performance, they too struggled at the foul line (9-19 overall), but they did hit 46% of their shots even with that dreadful night from deep.
Auburn is going to have to grind this one out with defense, but based on what we saw the other night it should be a similar outcome, and USF definitely isn’t as good as George Mason.
Auburn should be able to handle the Bulls fairly easily at home. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both teams fare a little better from deep in this one, and Auburn should get a big boost from a crowd that’ll be juiced for the football game tomorrow, and the place should be packed. I’m excited to see more of Johni Broome on the interior, and I think we get better nights from guys like Yohan Traore, who was experiencing his first action in college hoops. With a game under everyone’s belt, Auburn shakes off some rust but the defense stays the same and dominates.
Auburn 76, USF 55