So, you want the good news first or the bad news first?
We lost our home winning streak. It stood at 28 games, and we hadn’t lost at Neville (nee Auburn) Arena since we weren’t a good team during the hilarity of the COVID year. Now, we get to start stacking blocks yet again, and our first opportunity to rebuild that streak will come against Georgia next week (wheeee!).
The good news is, uh, not much. Auburn looked great for about four minutes last night, getting up 10-2 and lighting up the Jungle with an emphatic Allen Flanigan dunk, and then Texas A&M went on a 40-20 run and led by 15 at halftime. The second half was just frustrating, with Auburn outplaying A&M, but the Aggies had that cushion and the Tigers could never cut into it enough.
We’d see Auburn get the lead down to as few as 8 points, and have the ball, but an untimely turnover or a foul call would give the ball away and then A&M would run the shot clock down and score. We spent most of the second half down by 12, and never really threatened. Had we pulled within two possessions, then sure, but man what a night for pretty much everyone to have off nights.
Jaylin Williams and Allen Flanigan scored 8 points each, but on 6-15 combined shooting. K.D. Johnson had 5 points and 3 turnovers. Even though Wendell Green and Johni Broome combined for 32 points, we got no production from anyone else. We didn’t hit a three in the second half. 3-16 from deep for the game won’t cut it when A&M (one of the worst perimeter shooting teams in the country) magically goes 6-11 in the first half to build that lead.
Personally, I have extreme dislike for whatever dynamic it is that lets Tyrece Radford score at will against us. He had 30 points, a career high, and got to the basket when he wanted, scoring on a number of difficult finishes. He did the same thing against us in March in the SEC Tournament. Can we not.
We won’t pretend that this is an isolated incident, because Auburn looked bad offensively even in the win against the Aggies in Neville Arena last year. Only Walker Kessler’s triple-double saved the Tigers, but nearly everyone else had a poor outing. Buzz Williams has Bruce’s number for whatever reason, and our roster is currently the reason why we can’t do anything about it.
Unfortunately, K.D. has taken a humongous step back, and I don’t know if there’s any sort of a reference point for just how bad he’s been playing this year. He went from a reliable sharpshooter and a tenacious guard with the ball in his hands to a terrible shooter and poor decision maker. Auburn simply can’t rely on him to give production, let alone consistent production. Jaylin Williams can score, but with the rest of the roster looking the way it is, we need him to be posting 15 points a night for the offense to look good. Same with Allen Flanigan, who takes poor shots left and right.
Bruce needs to trim the rotation, and it’s partially what we saw last night that just completely ruins the flow of the game. We got up 10-2, and the entire bench comes in for a split, and A&M gets back into it. I love these guys to death, but Tre Donaldson, Chris Moore, K.D. Johnson, Dylan Cardwell, and Lior Berman is not the unit to strike fear into the hearts of opponents. We simply cannot take everyone off the floor and let an opponent back into it. It’s what we saw last year as well, and it contributed to our offensive lulls. It may be taxing, but Wendell needs to be playing upwards of 35 minutes for our offense to have a chance at working well.
The schedule takes a break with West Virginia on the road this weekend, and then we get Georgia at home, which ain’t no picnic based on what we’ve seen this season. We’d better figure it out quickly, though, because we get the first of our crazy three-game stretches coming up starting next weekend, when we go at Tennessee, at Texas A&M, and then home against Alabama.
Changes are needed, but maybe we just had to have a bit of a wakeup call. Lose the home streak and get the pressure off. Let’s see what Bruce can cook up.