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Miami vs Auburn Game Preview and Open Thread

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A spot in the Sweet 16 is on the line tonight in Greenville

Syndication: The Montgomery Advertiser Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK

Sunday March 20th, 2022

#10 Miami Hurricanes vs #2 Auburn Tigers

NCAA Tournament 2nd Round

Bon Secours Wellness Arena - Greenville, South Carolina

Time: 6:45PM

Network: TruTV, Auburn Radio Network

Betting Odds: Auburn -7.5, Over/Under 144.5 via Draft Kings Sportsbook

(Odds/lines subject to change. Visit DraftKings for more information.)

1 down, 5 to go.

The Tigers took care of business on Friday afternoon defeating Jacksonville State 80-61 in the 1st Round of the NCAA Tournament. Now, they’ll take on Miami, a team that defeated USC 68-66 Friday afternoon thanks to 2 free throws with 3 seconds left.

Before we talk about Miami, let’s recap Friday’s game against the Gamecocks. JSU came out hot from 3 early and made some tough shots, but about 15 minutes into the game those shots stopped falling and the Tigers made a push to close out the half. Auburn did what they haven’t been able to do well though after halftime with a double-digit lead and that was extend the lead. The Tigers would lead by as much as 24 and while JSU would cut the lead down to 12, the Tigers were able to keep JSU at an arms length the entire second half.

Jabari Smith was excellent in his first NCAA Tournament game leading the way with 20 points, a season-high 14 rebounds and one absolutely ridiculous dunk that not only had everybody talking, but created some fantastic meme content for years to come.

Walker Kessler was one block away from his 3rd triple double of the season with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 9 blocks. KD Johnson shook off his 0-14 performance in Tampa getting on the board in the game’s first few seconds and had 10 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds. Allen Flanigan had a great second half scoring all 10 of his points in the 2nd 20 minutes and played some fantastic defense as well. And while he only played 6 minutes because he took a Walker Kessler elbow into his face in a freak accident early in the second half, Jaylin Williams had a major contribution in the first half, scoring 8 points and made both of his 3-point attempts. Williams contribution helped turn the game around in Auburn’s favor and Jabari got an extended 1st half rest because of it. Hopefully we’ll see Jaylin tonight but there was a freak 5 seconds in this game where he, Kessler and Dylan Cardwell all suffered an injury scare.

Get to Know Miami

Miami finished 4th in the ACC this season and made the ACC Tournament Semifinals before losing by 4 to Duke. Their best win this season was a 2 point win over Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. They also have a 28 point win over North Carolina. They also have a 32 point loss to Alabama on a neutral court back in November. Head Coach Jim Larranaga has done a terrific job in Coral Gables over the past decade. Guards are the strength of this Miami team and this will be a great challenge for Auburn’s guards.

As a team, Miami averages 74.6 PPG and allows 70.9 PPG. While they’re a Top 20 team in Adjusted Offense per KenPom, they sit at 144th in Adjusted Defense per KenPom. They shoot 34.7% from 3 and 74.4% from the free throw line. Rebounding hasn’t been their strong point this year as on average, they have been outrebound by 4.3 boards a game. They do a decent job though in limiting turnovers as they only average 9.4 of those a contest.

Leading the way for Miami is 6th-year senior guard Kameron McGusty (#23), a first team All-ACC selection. He played his first 2 seasons at Oklahoma before transferring to Miami after the 2017-2018 season. This season has been his best as he’s averaging 17.4 PPG and 4.9 RPG. He’s shooting 36.5% from 3 and 81.6% from the free throw line this season.

Next up is sophomore guard Isaiah Wong (#2). Wong is averaging 15.4 PPG and 4.3 RPG, shoots 30.6% from 3 and 74.8% from the free throw line. The New Jersey native was a 3rd team All-ACC this season for the Canes.

Another sixth-year senior that’s an important piece for Miami is guard Charlie Moore (#3). Moore has had quite the journey over the course of his college career. He played 1 year at California, played 1 and sat 1 year at Kansas, 2 years at DePaul before transferring to Miami for his final year of eligibility. Moore is averaging 12.7 PPG this season and shooting 37.1% from 3.

Next is junior guard Jordan Miller (#11) is averaging 10 PPG and leads the team averaging 6.1 RPG in his first year with the Canes after spending his first 3 seasons at George Mason. Miller shoots 30.6% from 3 and 70% from the free throw line.

Rounding out the starting lineup in the frontcourt is another sixth-year senior, forward Sam Waardenburg (#21). The New Zealand native is averaging 8.5 PPG and 4.2 RPG this season. Waardenburg is shooting 41.9% from 3 on the season and while he hasn’t attempted near as many 3s as the top 3 scorers, he’s shown he can step and knock down 3s.

Bench players for Miami include sophomore forward Anthony Walker (#1), freshmen guard Wooga Poplar (#55), and freshmen guard Bensley Joseph (#4).

Prediction

Auburn’s guards played well on Friday but this will be a tougher test going up against such an experienced group that Miami will throw against the Tigers. Auburn should have the advantage in the frontcourt though and that bodes well for Walker Kessler and Jabari Smith. Miami isn’t the best defensive team either and Auburn will throw a heavy dose of Zep Jasper, Allen Flanigan and KD Johnson at McGusty, Wong and Moore. The Tigers played well on Friday and hopefully with a game under their belt in Greenville, the shooting will continue to improve (they were 9-24 from 3 by the way). One more win gets Auburn to the Sweet 16 and this Auburn team will have to fight for it, but I think they get this done.

Auburn 84 Miami 74