Tigers Remain Unbeaten, SEC Play Starts January 4th
Danjel Purifoy will be leading the Tigers against Mississippi State January 4. (photo: Auburn media file)
A feisty Lipscomb team came into Auburn Arena and stuck with coach Bruce Pearl’s Tigers for the better part of a half. When time expired, the Orange and Blue had run away with an 86–59 win to remain unbeaten. Auburn is now one of only two teams in the country to be perfect on the season.
The Tigers had five different players score in double digits. Jamal Johnson came off the bench to score 14, matching his season high against South Alabama.
But it was Danjel Purifoy leading the way, dropping 17 on five-of-nine shooting that included a three-of-five performance from beyond the arc and a perfect four-for-four mark from the line. It was Purifoy’s best game of the year, and he is really contributing after being lost for the majority of last season. He’s averaging almost ten points a game with six games in double figures.
Freshman Isaac Okoro continues to shine for the Tigers as he added another game with ten or more points
All in all, the Tigers shot well from the field, hitting over half their shots, though they were only 35 percent from long range. It was the nine blocks that gave the Tigers the edge they needed to run away from the Bisons. Auburn ended out-of-conference play with four players averaging double-digit scoring. Purifoy’s 9.5 had him on the edge of joining the group led by Samir Doughty, who is scoring over 16 a game.
The Tigers end their out-of-conference season 12–0 and have a few days off before traveling to Starkville to take on Mississippi State. The Bulldogs started the season 5–0 before dropping an 83–76 match against Villanova. When the Tigers come to town, they will face an 8–3 team coming off a 58–52 loss to New Mexico State.
The Bulldogs are led by guard Tyson Carter, who already has four twenty-point games, averaging 16. He isn’t just a scorer as he distributes the ball very well. He averages almost four and a half assists per game. Carter gets to the line a lot and shoots it at an 83-percent clip. To stop him, Auburn needs to force him to play hero ball and take a lot of contested three pointers. In State’s losses, he has taken 27 long-range shots but hit just a third of them.
In addition, Auburn can’t afford to ignore forward Reggie Perry, who is averaging 14 points and nine rebounds per game. He’s a walking double-double that will likely be matched up with Purifoy.
Mississippi State uses a seven-man rotation that will struggle to keep pace with Auburn’s deep bench. While the Bulldogs turn it over 15 times a game, they also average five blocks and six steals. Auburn, on the other hand, turns the rock over 13 times a game and averages 6.5 steals and seven blocks.
ESPN’s BPI gives Auburn just a 52-percent chance to win the game, but that’s giving the home crowd a lot of the benefit of the doubt. If Auburn can start fast and keep the game from slowing down, the Tigers should easily win.
Tipoff in Starkville is set for 3:30 p.m. on January 4th, and coverage will be on the SEC Network.