GAME 21: Saturday, January 28th, 2023
WVU Coliseum - Morgantown, WV
Time: 11:00 am CST/12:00 pm EST
Network: ESPN, Auburn Radio Network
Betting Odds: Auburn +3.5, Over/Under 138.0 via Draft Kings Sportsbook
(Odds/lines subject to change. Visit DraftKings for more information.)
Oh my goodness, we’re an underdog today! Truthfully, it speaks to the Big 12’s prowess as a top basketball conference and a league that’s good top to bottom. The Tigers travel to West Virginia today to battle the Mountaineers (Moun-TAN-eers for your pronunciation guide if you want to blend in) to try to get back on the right track.
Gone is Auburn’s 28-game home winning streak, and a bit of the confidence we had built as well. Texas A&M may have Auburn’s number, and Tyrece Radford might be our actual kryptonite, but the facts remain that the Tigers looked listless over the final 35 minutes of the game as the Aggies controlled the tempo and built a double-digit lead that never really got threatened. Turnovers, lack of shooting, and some questionable line shifts during the game stunted Auburn’s momentum after a 10-2 start and A&M never looked back.
Now, we’re off to West-Virginia-Mountain-Mama to tangle with Bob Huggins in his 16th season as head coach in Morgantown.
WVU isn’t the most intimidating opponent on paper, as they’re just 12-8 overall and 2-6 in Big 12 action. However, the losses are to Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Baylor, Texas, and Oklahoma. It’s not exactly losing to the little sisters of the poor, and so their record is a bit deceiving. In the non-con, they lost to Purdue and Xavier. Of the 8 losses you might find 8 tournament teams.
As a team, we’re going to see something similar to what we saw on Wednesday night, and that’s a team that knows how to get to the free throw line. WVU scores more on average than A&M did, and they’re better in many categories than the Aggies, but the makeup is similar. They’re not a great shooting team, but they still cobble together 77 points per game.
We’re going to recognize our old nemesis Erik Stevenson as he leads the Mountaineers in scoring with 13.1 ppg, and I’m sure he’ll be revenge-minded after what Auburn did to him at South Carolina last year. Tre Mitchell, Joe Toussaint, and Kedrian Johnson all average double dfigures as well, with Mitchell leading the team in rebounds and three-point accuracy.
If you know anything about the way that Bob Huggins teams are coached, then maybe Wednesday night was a nice little warmup. We’re not going to have any easier time with an opponent that likes to put pressure on you and force the issue, but maybe we’re in the groove after playing A&M.
An early game on the road in an unfamiliar place doesn’t have me super confident that Auburn can win. I can see Stevenson hitting three after three like he did when the Tigers played him last year, but I can also see Johni Broome having a big game against a bit of a smaller team. However, this game will go as Wendell Green goes. If Auburn can get a clean performance from him against some really aggressive defensive play, then the Tigers can win. Otherwise, this could just be an exercise in pain. I think it’s close, but I’m not confident on the road.
West Virginia 71, Auburn 69