Tue, 31 Mar 2020

No. 13 Auburn hopes to ride momentum against Ole Miss

Field Level Media
25 Feb 2020, 11:19 GMT+10

Auburn is hoping to pick up from where it left off its last game when the Tigers host Ole Miss Tuesday night in a Southeastern Conference matchup.

The No. 13 Tigers (23-4, 10-4 SEC) made a huge late run against Tennessee on Saturday, playing the final 14 minutes more like the team that won its first 15 games than the one that had lost its previous two on the road. Auburn ultimately rallied from a 17-point deficit for a 73-66 victory.

After a first half that saw them shoot only 34.5 percent from the field, going only 3 of 14 from 3-point range, the Tigers bounced back by hitting half of 28 shots in the second half, including 4 of 6 from behind the arc.

"Can we build on it?" Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said afterward. "We have to play every day the rest of the way like we did in the second half, and if we do, we've got a chance."

The Tigers got help from the usual sources, with Samir Doughty scoring 22 points, J'Von McCormick getting four assists and five steals, and Austin Wiley getting seven rebounds, an assist, two steals and a blocked shot to go along with nine points. But they also got an unexpected boost from freshmen Jaylin Williams and Devan Cambridge.

Cambridge hit a big 3-pointer that gave Auburn a 67-64 lead on his way to nine points and a season-high six rebounds. Williams had a spectacular self-service alley-oop play to start the second half, throwing a pass off the backboard to himself for the dunk. He ended up with eight points after entering the game with just 13 total for the season.

"In high school, I did it three times," Williams said of self-administered assist. "That was something that came naturally. I just threw it off the backboard and went and got it."

The game against Ole Miss (13-14, 4-10) could provide an opportunity for the Tigers to work freshman forward Isaac Okoro (13.1 points, 4.8 rebounds per game) back into the lineup before Saturday's outing at Kentucky, though his status remains day-to-day because of a hamstring issue.

The Rebels are coming off a 103-78 home loss to Alabama that matched their worst SEC setback of the season. Breein Tyree scored 28 points but picked up a technical foul and fouled out with 8:50 left in the game.

"We reverted back to things that were not fundamentally sound on defense," said coach Kermit Davis, who was ejected after being assessed a second technical foul in the second half.

The Rebels are hoping to have KJ Buffen (9.6 points, 5.9 rebounds) full-time after a back issue flared up and limited him to just two points in 13 minutes.

"Everything structurally is fine, but he just hit a specific spot, and it was too much back pain," Davis said. "He just could not go."

Auburn is a perfect 15-0 at home this season and has won its last 18 games in Auburn Arena. It is the third-longest such streak in program history but only halfway to the school record home-floor winning streak of 36 games set from January 1957 to January 1961.

--Field Level Media

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