Auburn Basketball: Why The Next Two Games Matter

Here we take a look at Auburn basketball’s schedule and how the next two games are essential for the Tigers at this time in the season.

It was a bit of a heart-wrenching display towards the end of the game against Mississippi State, yet Auburn basketball came through in the end with the victory. The Tigers would score 98 points, the most in a victory against a SEC opponent since 1999 against Alabama — a Sweet Sixteen year, no doubt.

Yet despite the wondrous display of offense once again, shooting 51.6 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from three. Sophomore guard Bryce Brown found his groove from 3-point land, shooting 4-5 and 5-8 from the field to lead the team in scoring at 18 points. If there’s something to be said about his jump shot, one that is as beautiful as any, it’s that it’s about time he’s finally getting where he should always be — eager to shoot, and doing it correctly.

Brown was joined by Mustapha Heron and Austin Wiley in leading the team in scoring with 17 and 14, respectively. Heron’s performance proved valuable for the Tigers, as he tied for the lead in rebounds at six and second in assists with four. Ronnie Johnson came in the second half to ease the tension of a Bulldog comeback attempt, leading the team with eight assists and had four rebounds to combine with his six points. Johnson has been a keynote performer for the Tigers of late, adding a sixth man package for Auburn that has proven golden.

Now as the season enters its last month of regular season play, Auburn faces a final six games that will not only define the season, it may push them into the NCAA tournament.

The Tigers will face Ole Miss for a rematch (having lost 88-85 in their first meeting) on Feb. 11 before hosting No. 17 Florida on Valentine’s Day. Ole Miss will present a perfect matchup for Wiley in a duel with dominant big men, and No. 17 Florida will provide a resume building opportunity.

There’s something else presented by the Rebels — a chance to show both growth and experience since their Jan. 7 meeting. Both Wiley and Jared Harper have since won the award for SEC Freshman of the Week, and Heron is slowly falling into a Kobe Bryant role. It is an opportunity to show that the offense is working itself out, with both bench players and freshmen alike having more and more say into the flow of the game. Anfernee McLemore, also freshman, is joining Johnson as members on the bench who can greatly affect the Auburn gameplan.

A top 20 Florida team will not only give Auburn the ability to earn some national recognition and spotlight, it will also push their NCAA Tournament bubble berth. It is assumed that Auburn — sadly, like the rest of the SEC at this point — is sitting right outside the bubble for the Big Dance, with a key win not yet in the hands of the Tigers.

The crazy thing is, there’s a great possibility that Auburn will not only win these next two games — they may even make a splash doing so.

Here’s to the NCAA Tournament and taking out the Gators.

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