Well, well, well, look who’s back!
After many of us had decried the season dunzo with a road loss to Georgia, Auburn responded by beating #13 Arkansas at home by double digits, and then going on the road to a place where they’ve had quite a few nightmares and exorcising some demons.
The Tigers beat Ole Miss 82-73 last night, and what we saw was a totally different team than the one that took the floor in Athens a week ago.
Ole Miss came out fired up, shooting well, and excited to play a ranked team at home. Auburn absorbed the opening blows, and kept things close throughout the first half before turning it on after the intermission. Bruce Pearl’s careful use of timeouts (unheard of!) settled the team and let them figure out the issues at hand. In the end, Auburn shot better and better as the game progressed, and even got help from some unlikely folks during the tough stretches.
Wendell Green was the catalyst for much of the game with a game-high 23 points (11-11 FT, 7 assists), and Johni Broome carried the Tigers for the early portion on the inside. He finished with 19 points, 11 boards, and did plenty of damage against a Rebel team that couldn’t handle someone of his skill under the rim. Additionally, Allen Flanigan had his second-straight solid outing with 15 points, and actually played all but 6 minutes of this game.
Auburn started this one out with 7 straight points from Johni Broome, but the Rebels were hot to start. Threes by Jaemyn Brakefield and Matthew Murrell, along with a steal and transition dunk by Myles Burns gave Ole Miss a 13-7 lead at the 14:56 mark. Zep Jasper hit a three to stem the bleeding, but Ole Miss ran out to an 17-10 lead quickly after that.
The Tigers cobbled together scoring on four straight makes by Flanigan, Jaylin Williams, Flanigan again, and Yohan Traore, and then took the lead on a K.D. Johnson layup at the midpoint of the half. From there, the lead teetered back and forth as both teams stayed consistent through the end of the period, and Ole Miss went to halftime ahead 35-34.
In the second half, however, Auburn came alive. A layup by Broome to start the half gave the Tigers a lead they’d never relinquish, and a three immediately thereafter by Green gave them a little cushion. Green’s second three a few minutes later pushed the lead to 46-39, and then a Dylan Cardwell dunk put the Tigers ahead by double figures for the first time at 51-41 with 12:19 to play.
Auburn pushed the advantage to as many as 14 points multiple times down the stretch, but Ole Miss made a slight run to cut the deficit to 78-71 in the final minutes with a Tye Fagan three. Fortunately, Auburn held serve at the foul line and escaped with the 82-73 win.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
I would like to say Wendell Green with his 23 points, but I’m really enjoying watching Allen Flanigan bounce back over the past two outings. He played the most minutes, and had some really good shots take tough bounces and fail to fall, but he still added 15 points on 6-12 shooting. Couple that with 5 rebounds and no turnovers, and that’s a heck of a night.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Wendell’s behind-the-back transition dish was cool, but this was cooler.
See the rest of the highlights here:
- Auburn’s halves of shooting are hilariously different, and the second half bodes extremely well if the Tigers can replicate it on the road more this season. First half, Auburn went 13-33 (39.4%) overall, and just 1-8 from three. Second half, that turned into 17-28 (60.7%) overall, and 3-6 from downtown, while also getting to the 14 times.
- Bruce Pearl’s timeouts were something uncharacteristic. We’ve seen him wait for a media stoppage before getting into his guys, but this time he brought them over and let them settle down, and it worked. They put together a run right after the first-half timeout, and then ran away with it in the end.
Auburn HC Bruce Pearl on the first-half timeout that turned the game around: “Steven (Pearl) had planted a seed in my head that if we got in an early rough patch, call a timeout… We did, and we were very calm in the timeout.”— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) January 11, 2023
- Dylan Cardwell is shooting 80% on the year. Hilarious.
- I wish Zep would unleash himself more. He and K.D. split time last night (19:40 on the floor for Zep, 20:20 for K.D.), but Zep hit that early three and should take more shots. If K.D.’s production is falling off, we’re missing something from that position and need to figure out a way to reintroduce it into the lineup.
Auburn is back at home this Saturday for a Throwback Night at Neville Arena when Mississippi State comes to town. 7:30 pm CST tipoff for the Tigers and Bulldogs, who started their SEC season at 1-2 (losses to Bama/Tennessee, win over Ole Miss). They play at Georgia tonight.