GAME 09: Saturday, December 10th, 2022
#11 Auburn Tigers vs Memphis Tigers
State Farm Arena - Atlanta, GA
Time: 4:00 pm CST/5:00 pm EST
Network: ESPN2, Auburn Radio Network
Betting Odds: Auburn -2.5, Over/Under 137.5 via Draft Kings Sportsbook
(Odds/lines subject to change. Visit DraftKings for more information.)
It’s been a while! Auburn returns to the hardwood, but not at home. The Tigers are heading a few miles up the road to take on another set of Tigers as they meet Memphis in Atlanta. Penny Hardaway’s team comes in at 7-2 and will be a tough set to beat, but Auburn should be well-rested and hopefully ready to get back on the court.
Bruce Pearl’s guys have had a full week off since the blowout win over Colgate, and are one of ten undefeated teams left in the country at 8-0. After this game, they’ve got one more contest at home next week before a pre-holiday road trip to the west coast.
Auburn has run out a perfect record so far this season by way of the defensive side of the ball. Thus far, the Tigers rank highly in the following categories:
- Blocks (1st nationally)
- Opponent Free Throw Percentage (1st nationally) - somehow we’ll chalk this up to good defense
- Opponent 3-Point Percentage (11th nationally)
- Opponent Field Goal Percentage (16th nationally)
- Opponent 2-Point Percentage (21st nationally)
- Opponent Points Per Game (14th nationally)
The rotation has been vast, with the Tigers playing thirteen guys that average four minutes per game. We can certainly expect that to get trimmed down a bit, and maybe this is the game where we really see Bruce Pearl try to define an eight or nine man rotation. It’s been nice so far, with guys that we’ll really need to depend on down the line not taxing themselves too much to this point in the season. Wendell Green and Jaylin Williams plays the most minutes per game, and they’re only at 25.4 minutes per game at this time. The starters will almost definitely be getting closer to thirty minutes per game based on last year’s averages.
Auburn has also been a bit up and down with scoring, even at home where they’re normally on fire offensively. The win over Colgate was great, with the team hitting ten threes and shooting 55% overall, but that comes on the heels of performances like the win over Northwestern, where we only managed 43 points. It’s tough to figure out exactly which team we’re going to get when we hit the floor in different arenas. Fortunately, defense travels.
That brings us to who we’re going to be facing. Auburn fans have been looking at Memphis from afar for a while, particularly in the recruiting game. The two squads battled for Jalen Green’s commitment before he ultimately decided to go pro, and then Penny Hardaway was able to secure some extremely high-profile commits from Emoni bates and Jalen Duren during the 2021 recruiting season. Bates transferred out to Eastern Michigan, and Duren was selected 13th during this past NBA Draft. Now, there’s a bit of a vacuum where they were, and Penny’s trying to figure it out.
Kendric Davis is the guy who’ll lead things for the Tigers, averaging 17.4 ppg/3.7 rpg/4.8 apg at the point. We’ll get to see a similar matchup like we did when Auburn played Saint Louis and Wendell Green went against Yuri Collins. Davis will play a ton of minutes, take a ton of shots, and get to the line. He’s not a great perimeter shooter, though, so we’ll see how often Auburn forces him to shoot from distance instead of letting him drive. Memphis as a whole doesn’t shoot well from three, just hitting 32.5% of their threes on the year.
Deandre Williams is the only other guy hitting double figures for Memphis, and he leads the team in rebounding as well. A 6’9 forward, he’s posting 14.7 ppg/7.3 rpg, and will be the main problem for Johni Broome/Dylan Cardwell.
Memphis doesn’t have quite the depth that Auburn does, but that means they know what they’re doing a bit better. Other guys we can expect to give us problems are Keonte Kennedy an Alex Lomax (8.0 and 7.9 ppg respectively), and we can expect to see Davis, Williams, and Lomax on the floor the majority of the time. Getting a couple of key fouls on any of those guys would go a long way for Auburn.
Auburn’s defense will travel a little bit better than Memphis’ will. I think the orange and blue Tigers will have a better contingent of crowd support in Atlanta as well. Those two things will make this feel a little more like a game at Neville Arena. Auburn destroyed Nebraska last year in this event in this building, and maybe some of that hot shooting and hometown feel carry over this year. Memphis is a tougher out than Nebraska, however, and this will be a more difficult contest overall.
Expect both defenses to show up, but I think Auburn’s able to hassle Kendric Davis enough to disrupt the flow of the Memphis attack. Johni Broome gets the better of his counterparts inside, and we continue to see Wendell’s growth as a star. Close game until the final ten minutes, and Auburn is always a step or two ahead for the rest of the duration.
Auburn 65, Memphis 58