GAME 19: Saturday, January 21st, 2023
Colonial Life Arena - Columbia, SC
Time: 2:30 pm CST/3:30 pm EST
Network: SEC Network, Auburn Radio Network
Betting Odds: Auburn -13.5, Over/Under 133.5 via Draft Kings Sportsbook
(Odds/lines subject to change. Visit DraftKings for more information.)
Let’s review the past week, shall we? Auburn’s defense has showed up in spades over the previous two games, shutting down a Mississippi State team on the Plains and allowing 0-18 from the three-point line. Then the Tigers went on the road to Baton Rouge and didn’t allow the Bayou Bengals of LSU to break 50 points. Under Bruce Pearl, Auburn has usually struggled on the road, but this season it’s been different aside from the loss to Georgia. For one, maybe Georgia is actually good, and two, maybe it was the catalyst for a little team chemistry that we needed to see.
Since that loss to Georgia, Auburn hasn’t lost, and will take the tough-as-nails unspectacular-but-effective show on the road to Columbia to tangle with South Carolina. The Gamecocks have had about as wild a start to the SEC season as you can imagine. An overtime win over Vandy led into an 85-42 drubbing at the hands of Tennessee before the Cocks beat Kentucky in Rupp Arena.
After that, they lost to Texas A&M by forty points at home, and then lost another home matchup Ole Miss in the midweek. You could say that they’re due for another good performance, or they’re due to get destroyed by forty points for the third time this conference season.
The stats have shown that Auburn isn’t going to do that to somebody, and if they do then the rest of the league needs to watch out. A huge blowout for this Auburn team is what we saw on Wednesday night, a 67-49 win over LSU. Auburn’s defense has allowed 58, 76, 59, 73, 63, and 49 points in the six SEC games thus far, and they seem to be getting better as the season wears on.
Something else that we’ve seen is that Auburn doesn’t have that guy, and somehow that might not be the worst thing in the world. A point that was brought up on our weekly podcast is that we may be miserable to play against because it doesn’t really matter who you take away, we’re probably going to get our 65ish points and hold you in the fifties. You can’t stifle Jabari Smith like last year (if you could), and kneecap the offense. At best, if Wendell Green has a bad game, then we’re probably going to suffer offensively. But if Johni Broome, Allen Flanigan, Jaylin Williams, Chris Moore, etc, have bad games at certain times, somebody else will pick up the production and we’re not losing a ton in the meantime anyway. Add in the confidence and development of LockDown Lior Berman, and the Tigers are cooking in ways.
South Carolina’s season has been as wild as we described above, and while they’ll probably get back to some of the similar success they had at times under Frank Martin, they’re not at that point yet. Of their heavy-hitters, four guys average double figures, but it’s a top-heavy rotation. Previous overall number one recruit G.G. Jackson leads the way with 15 points per game, and then Meechie Johnson (formerly of Ohio State), Chico Carter, and Hayden Brown, all follow with 12.5, 11.1, and 11.1 points respectively. Then there’s nobody averaging more than 6.0 points per game after that. These guys play a ton of minutes, and Auburn’s depth should play a factor in combating the big four for South Carolina.
As a team, they don’t do anything particularly well.
At best, they rebound on the offensive glass, but they’re pretty bad on the other end of the floor. They’re near the bottom in scoring, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and assists. If Auburn struggles with this game, there will be some issues.
Auburn has won five straight games in the series dating back to early 2019, and although Lamont Paris has quite a task in front of him, he seems to be building a foundation that can make South Carolina respectable again.
This afternoon should be a fairly easy time for Auburn. The Tigers are favored by 13.5 points, and even without Chris Moore should bring more depth into Colonial Life Arena than the Gamecocks can combat. I think I’ve said this for a few games now, but Johni Broome should very well have a nice game today, and I think we see a tight contest early based on energy in the building that fades as the Tiger defense makes the Gamecocks fight more than they’re able to.
Auburn 80, South Carolina 64