Date: Friday, 11/9/18
Tip-Off Time: 6:30 pm PT
TV: SEC Network
Radio: KOMO 1000 AM/97.7 FM and TuneIn
Location: Auburn, Alabama
Betting Line: Auburn -10
Auburn 2017-18 (last season) Statistics:
Record: 26-8 (13-5)
Points For per Game: 81.9 ppg (20th)
Points Against per Game: 73.2 ppg (182nd)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 115.4 (26th)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 96.7 (37th)
Auburn Key Players (stats from last season):
F- Anfernee McLemore, Sr. 6’7, 220: 7.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.7 bpg, 53.2% FG, 39.1% 3pt, 72.9% FT
McLemore’s move to center as a small ball 5 who could still protect the rim helped spark Auburn’s surprise ascendance. He suffered an injury that kept him out for the 2nd half of the year but should be back and fully healthy. Despite being just 6’7 he would’ve led the country in block percentage last year had he been eligible based on playing time. McLemore picked up where he left off recording 3 blocks to go along with 11 points and 8 boards against South Alabama.
F- Chuma Okeke, So. 6’8, 230: 7.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 0.7 bpg, 45.8% FG, 39.1% 3pt, 58.1% FT
Okeke is a true stretch 4 threat as he makes one three-pointer per game on a good percentage at 6’8. He’s an incredibly efficient player and serves as a perfect complement to the rest of the Auburn offensive threats. He had a monster first game on Tuesday with 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists on 3 of 5 shooting from deep.
G- Samir Doughty, So. 6’4, 195: 9.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.1 apg, 40.9% FG, 28.4% 3pt, 76.6% FT
Doughty is a transfer from VCU who sat out last season due to transfer rules. Once Danjel Purifoy returns from suspension he’ll likely be the 6th man off the bench but will play heavy minutes against the Huskies. He chipped in 14 points on just 7 shots in the Auburn opener despite it being his first action since missing a few weeks with a leg injury.
G- Bryce Brown, Sr. 6’3, 198: 15.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.6 apg, 40.1% FG, 38.2% 3pt, 77.5% FT
Brown is the leading returning scorer for Auburn and does most of his damage behind the arc where he’s an exceptional shooter. About 2/3rds of his attempts are three-pointers. He’s also viewed as their best perimeter defender so expect to see him matched up on Jaylen Nowell often.
G- Jared Harper, Jr. 5’10, 170: 13.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 5.4 apg, 36% FG, 35.5% 3pt, 82.2% FT
Harper is the man who makes everything go for Auburn. He led the team in assists and free throws made and was second in 3-pointers made. Harper is an analytics darling as every shot is either at the rim or beyond the arc. Expect the Huskies to dare him to shoot it in the middle as he only attempted 5% of his shots from midrange last season. He was amazing in that opening Auburn win with 20 points and 13 assists while shooting 6/10 from 3 point range.
2018-19 Auburn Tigers Shot Chart
Pretty clear that the Tigers played well against South Alabama on Tuesday…
The win against Western Kentucky on Tuesday was very nice but this is the first chance for the Huskies to really make their mark this season. Auburn finished as a #4 seed in the NCAA tournament which was significantly above expectations for a team that was picked 9th in the SEC preseason media poll. They return 6 of their top 8 players from last season and will add back two players suspended all of last season although likely neither will play tonight.
Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley were suspended for all of last year for their part in the FBI investigation that led to the arrest of assistant coach Chuck Person. Purifoy is still suspended for 9 games and will certainly not play. The 6’11 Wiley sustained a foot injury a few weeks ago but it looks like he’s going to see the court although it may be in limited minutes.
If Wiley can’t go then this is an extremely undersized Tigers team. They likely won’t play anyone else taller than 6’8 so this is a true small ball lineup. While it may have consequences on the defensive end, every single Auburn player is capable of hitting a shot from behind the arc. Auburn torched South Alabama in their first game and hit 18 three-pointers. Their gameplan against UW will be to continue chucking deep shots. However, that may play into Washington’s hands. Last season the Huskies were tremendous at knocking teams relying on the 3-pointer out of rhythm with their zone and they’ll hope to do it again. But if Jared Harper takes and makes shots from this distance then there isn’t much that the zone is going to do. But that’s true for basically any defense.
Anfernee McLemore is the primary rim protector for Auburn and the matchup of him versus Noah Dickerson when Washington has the ball might decide this game. The lack of size and tendency to shoot from deep against Washington might give UW the ability to play Dickerson more minutes at center and thus keep him in the game on offense. I’d also expect Auburn to try to get out in transition frequently and prevent the Husky defense from getting set.
The Huskies are about as veteran a team as you can have but the Tigers are definitely no slouches in that department. If both Purifoy and Wiley were playing in this game then they’d have seven players who have averaged at least 7 points per game in a season before. But without either this seems like a good matchup for the Huskies. If Auburn repeatedly drains 3’s either from 5 feet behind the arc or with hands right in their faces then they’ll probably win. But if they shoot something like 25-33% from deep then I don’t see how they produce enough offense inside to keep pace. Washington got away with a 5+ minute scoreless streak against Western Kentucky. There’s no way they’ll survive if they lose their way for even a couple of minutes this time around.
Win or lose this should be a fantastic game. This is first time since 1987 that Auburn has ever hosted a ranked vs. ranked non-conference game and the atmosphere should be frenzied despite an 8:30p Friday night local tip time. But I’m giving the edge to the veterans in a good matchup even on the road.
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