‘Real challenge,’ says Auburn’s Bruce Pearl of upcoming two-game swing against Oklahoma and Connecticut. Video pic.twitter.com/feKMkjfywQ
— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) December 19, 2016
With the student body heading in different directions due to the conclusion of the semester, the Oklahoma Sooners take to the road. Participating in the Basketball Hame of Fame’s Birthday of Basketball doubleheader, Lon Kruger hopes this group can turn things around against the 8-2 Auburn Tigers. Here are three tip-ins to know about the opposition heading into Wednesday’s game.
A Fast Start, Slow Finish
Over the course of ten games, the Tigers have shown the ability to produce and early lead in the opening 20 minutes of play. Outscoring opponents by an average of 6.9 points in the first half, the team leans on Danjel Purifoy and Mustafa Heron to carry the load. However, that number dwindles in the second half of regulation. Holding on to a 2.1 point scoring advantage in the final 20 minutes of plays leaves the Tigers vulnerable.
Free Throws: A Game Changer
Getting to the free throw line continues to be a point of emphasis for programs around the country. The Auburn Tigers are no exception. Attempting 27.4 free throws per game, the single stat line has the ability to change the game in a hurry especially in crunch time. With three players connecting on at least 75% of their trips to the charity stripe, the Tigers have the ability to capilitalize on each and every trip. As it currently sits, Danjel Purifoy holds the school record on consecutive conversions with 27 in a row. He’ll look to extend that streak on Wednesday.
Biggest Struggle: Rebounding
With the tallest scholarship player standing at 6-8, it’s no secret that Auburn comes in undersized. In his own words, Head Coach Bruce Pearl said to al.com, “Our challenges are going to rebounding the basketball, defending physically, playing fast, which is to our strength because of our speed and quickness and depth. But without ourselves being out of control. Can we make the opponent go fast and out of control without being out of control ourselves? That’s going to be our real challenge. We will be getting better throughout the season. That’s one thing I know.”
Judging by the 35.8 rebounds per game, a number that ranks 221st in the nation, Coach Pearl knew exactly what he was talking about. Rebounds should prove key in the match up as each team likes to get out and run early. Who will win the battle and provide an edge? Only time will tell.