Tigers Return Home Against Furman
Samir Doughty continues to be the points leader for the Auburn Tigers (photo: Auburn media file)
Bruce Pearl’s Tigers took home some hardware last week when they routed the Richmond Spiders at the Legends Classic. It may not have been as prestigious a tournament as the Maui Invitational, but it was important for the young Tigers to go on the road and win back-to-back games. Auburn trailed 37–38 at halftime but ended up pulling away, ending the game 79–65 after emptying the bench with two minutes on the clock.
Samir Doughty scored 22 points as he continues to dominate for the Tigers. He has scored at least 19 points in his last four games and is averaging 19 points per game on the season. He is doing it many ways, but his 45 percent from beyond the arc and the 70-percent mark from the charity stripe are helping No. 10 lead the Tigers.
Austin Wiley’s performance can’t be overlooked as he kicked in 18 points and 8 rebounds in a terrific game in the paint. Wiley was nearly perfect on the night, hitting six-of-seven shots from the floor and another six points from the line. However, his 6–11 mark on free throws needs to be improved upon as Richmond tried their best Hack-A-Shaq impression against the Auburn big man.
Free throws have been a bit of a bugaboo for Pearl’s squad so far this season. The Tigers had their best night from the line, going 22–31 which was easily the difference in the game. That didn’t seem to matter to Danjel Purifoy, who hit six-of-seven charity shots on his way to a 13-point effort, his fifth game in double-digit scoring. He finished one rebound shy of a double-double. Purifoy and freshman Isaac Okoro continue to be the X-factors for the Tigers. While Doughty’s scoring and Austin Wiley’s presence garner much of the attention, it’s Okoro and Purifoy that other teams cannot match up against. Okoro had his least productive game against Richmond, yet he was still a force as he was dunking on one end of the floor and blocking shots on the other.
Okoro is stepping right in to the hole left by Chuma Okeke, the first-rounder to Orlando, and Purifoy is showing why he was once one of the best recruits in the country.
Auburn’s bench players didn’t have as productive of a game against the Spiders as they might have liked, scoring just ten points. Yet, with the starters performing as well as they did, cutting down on the turnovers and pulling down 18 offensive rebounds, they didn’t need to. Auburn turned the ball over 13 times to Richmond’s ten, and the rebounds showed Auburn to have a sizable advantage as it out rebounded Richmond 44–34. In the end, Auburn didn’t shoot it well from the field and didn’t play the type game they’d like; they simply were that much better than Richmond.
On Thursday, the Tigers welcome Furman to Auburn Arena. ESPN’s Matchup Predictor gives Auburn an 81-percent chance to win. Furman is coming off a 65–55 loss to UCF, which followed a three-game winning streak that began after a loss to Alabama. Alabama beat Furman 81–73 on November 19. The Paladins are averaging 78 points per contest, but those numbers were skewed by runaway wins against Elon and CIU. The Tigers are averaging 85 points per game with a 70-point game being the low water mark, which came in a tough road environment against South Alabama in Mobile.
The Paladins are getting 15 points per game from their guard, Jordan Lyons. Although Lyons scored 33 in a loss to Alabama, he was held to just four points in their loss to UCF. He did a ton of damage from the line as he went 13–13 from the line against the Tide. Lyons is a volume shooter with a 91-percent free-throw average. As long as Auburn can contest his barrage of three-point attempts without fouling, the Tigers will run away with this game.
To do that, Auburn will try and force point guard Alex Hunter to look elsewhere with his passes or force Hunter to shoot.
Auburn holds a sizable advantage on the glass. Expect the Tigers to take care of business in a big way.