GAME 20: Wednesday, January 25th, 2023
#15 Auburn Tigers vs Texas A&M Aggies
Neville Arena - Auburn, AL
Time: 8:00 pm CST/9:00 pm EST
Network: ESPN2, Auburn Radio Network
Betting Odds: Auburn -4.0, Over/Under 137.5 via Draft Kings Sportsbook
(Odds/lines subject to change. Visit DraftKings for more information.)
Auburn’s resurgence over the past couple of weeks have been a cause for quiet optimism on the Plains, much like we saw in 2019 and 2020, where the Tigers weren’t the most pubbed team by the end of the regular season, but the one that ended up with the most momentum and a good, high ceiling.
With five straight SEC wins, including a 2-0 road swing last week, where Auburn won both games convincingly by double digits, the Tigers are second in the league at 6-1 overall (tied with Tennessee), hold the longest home winning streak in America, and have stifled opposing teams with their defense since the turn of the calendar.
Tonight, Auburn will play likely its toughest game of the young season with a Texas A&M team coming to town that is playing at a similar level a third of the way through the conference season.
The Aggies are 5-1 in the league, with their only loss coming last time out in Lexington. Otherwise, they’re very much like Auburn in that they’ve been able to feast on the middle and bottom tiers of the conference and rack up some key victories.
Of course you remember the Aggies from their run to the SEC Championship Game last year, and how they stymied Auburn’s offense in the SEC Tournament for a 67-62 victory. Auburn went just 25% from three, and allowed Tyrece Radford to hit 5-6 threes, which came in handy in a five-point victory. Now it’s time for Auburn to figure out a way to create some offense after Buzz Williams packed the middle and dared the Tigers to shoot the three. It’s not really Auburn’s cup of tea in 2023, so maybe we end up with a rock fight in the paint.
We’re going to be seeing quite a few names that we remember from last season, including the aforementioned Tyrece Radford and his 12.7 ppg. He’s only hitting 31.9% from deep, so we’re hoping that the game against the Tigers last March is a complete anomaly.
Wade Taylor is back to lead the show, scoring 14.8 points per game, hitting 35% of his threes, and shooting 82% from the free throw line. He’ll battle with Wendell Green to see which floor general can generate the most effective attack tonight.
On the inside, Julius Marble and Henry Coleman lead the way, combining for about 20 points per game with 10 rebounds as the dual starting forwards. Dexter Dennis is the other presumed starter, a 6’5 guard who adds 8.5 ppg and is able to grab rebounds like a big with his larger size.
As a team, the Aggies get to the line and make free throws. They don’t really score much, but they don’t take a lot of shots. As a pretty efficient team, they’ll pick their spots, make shots, and get to the foul line. They’re also in the upper crust at getting second chances with their own misses, even though they’re middle of the road when it comes to rebounding overall.
The SEC Championship Game was one of two instances down the stretch where an unexpected defensive strategy completely baffled us (the other being Miami). However, the home game against the Aggies was one of Walker Kessler’s triple-doubles, and despite the Tigers shooting poorly all around, Auburn dominated that game in front of the Jungle.
I think the home crowd has a similar effect tonight. Texas A&M isn’t really built to move quickly, and I think we have a bad taste in our mouth from the SEC Tournament and we’re over-inflating the abilities of the Aggies (or at least I am). They’re not going to hit 50% from deep in this game, and Auburn isn’t going to be completely cold in the arena they know and love. I also don’t really think the winning streak is much of an issue tonight, and the team plays loose. It’s close for a while, but Wendell Green has the kind of home game we remember from last year, and closes this thing out down the stretch.
Auburn 76, Texas A&M 66