Auburn Basketball: Tennessee Recap And The Final Alabama Preview

Here we recap the loss against Tennessee, and take a look at Auburn basketball’s matchup against Alabama this Saturday, Feb. 4, where the Tigers look to sweep the Crimson Tide.

The last time that Auburn basketball met the Crimson Tide, the Tigers grew a level of confidence that trickled down for both impressive wins and terrible losses. One of these losses came against a hardened Tennessee Volunteers team, one that took down a No. 4 Kentucky and fell to other great teams. It is possible that Tennessee had enough with the teams that they previously played and simply took out their anger against the Tigers, or maybe Auburn just lost the game on its own.

Auburn turned the ball over what seemed to be every single possession, and this was in large part for their intensity to throw the ball down low to Austin Wiley. Wiley, though ready, was double teamed for the entire game.

The Tigers’ 12 turnovers wasn’t more than Tennessee’s 13, but scoring off of a steal didn’t come easily for Auburn like it did for the Volunteers. Jared Harper took the game all to himself, throwing up just about any shot he could find in open space — and he rightfully should have.

What went wrong is that Auburn not only took terrible shots — they only took terrible shots. Despite Harper going 5-7 from three and 6-11 from the floor for a team-high 21 points, he just shouldn’t have in the first place. Every shot that Harper took was either in tight spacing or not smart at all — they just happened to go in.

This doesn’t take away from his performance, however, as Harper honestly did flash some impressive scoring ability and even showed how he could get up over the rim on a monstrous dunk attempt. From the way that Auburn performed as a whole is what takes away from Harper’s onslaught.

Any Auburn fan can see that Mustapha Heron had a great game visually, yet statistically — and realistically — he didn’t. The only player on the floor for the Tigers who had the perfect game was Anfernee McLemore, who took the time to grab the loose rebounds that Tennessee easily scooped up. McLemore grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and shot 3-4 from the floor for nine points, once again showcasing his efficient and much needed play. He was simply the only person who seemed to be playing the game correctly, as many missed shots found their way into Tennessee hands while Auburn flopped around.

But now comes the game that started it all — Alabama.

Whatever happened in their first matchup really set off a sequence of reality checks for Auburn, who went on to lose against No. 23 South Carolina and take down TCU in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. A game that was tied 30-30 at halftime, the Tigers finished on a 54-point second half to blow away the Crimson Tide 84-64. Wiley’s breakout performance with 18 free throw attempts and 19 points total really set the show for how to implement him into the game plan.

Yet Auburn seems to understand what they need to do as they failed so many times against Tennessee — get Wiley the ball. If Auburn is going to take a win against Alabama, the easiest way to do it is get the ball to Wiley. Don’t force it in, don’t throw the ball higher — just be patient. It’s that easy. If you build the open floor and space it by taking advantage of the double teams that inevitably consume Wiley — the open shots will come once again.

Here’s to a hopeful dismantling of the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.

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