AUBURN, Ala. – It is good to be dwelling.
Auburn dropped the ultimate two video games of a three-game street journey to start the 2020-21 season, however the Tigers returned dwelling this week and hope that being again in Auburn Area will function the right treatment Friday night time once they open the house slate in opposition to South Alabama.
“We’re excited concerning the dwelling opener,” head coach Bruce Pearl stated. “We’re dissatisfied with the Central Florida recreation. We did not deal with the second effectively in any respect. It’ll be good to get one other recreation in Friday and see if we are able to get a greater style in our mouths for a way we’re taking part in the sport and the way we’re taking part in collectively.”
Auburn and South Alabama met final yr in Cell, and freshman Isaac Okoro hit the game-winning shot with just below 5 seconds left to ship the Tigers dwelling with a 70-69 victory. This yr’s matchup options two utterly totally different groups.
For starters, Okoro is not at Auburn. He was the fifth total choose in final month’s NBA draft. Of the 10 Tigers who noticed the ground in final yr’s recreation, solely 4 are again. These 4 – Jamal Johnson, Allen Flanigan, Devan Cambridge and Babatunde Akingbola – all got here off the bench and mixed to attain simply 18 factors in 41 minutes of motion.
Johnson scored 14 of these 18 factors, pulling down Four of 5 photographs past the arc. On Monday, the junior guard matched his profession excessive with 18 factors in opposition to UCF.
Like Auburn, South Alabama additionally contains a brand-new crew. The Jaguars went 20-11 a yr in the past and completed second within the Solar Belt, however all 5 starters from final yr’s Auburn recreation are gone. Nonetheless, thanks largely to Western Michigan switch Michael Flowers, the crew’s main scorer, South Alabama is off to a 3-1 begin this season.
“In the event you embrace final yr the place they gained their final eight straight, and so they began out this season 3-1, they’ve gained 11 of their final 12 video games,” Pearl stated. “It is a crew and program that does believe and is taking part in effectively.”
Friday’s dwelling opener will tip off at eight p.m. CT from Auburn Area. Andy Burcham and Sonny Smith could have the radio name on 93.9 Tiger FM, on-line at AuburnTigers.com and on the TuneIn app. The sport will even be televised on SEC Community with Paul Sunderland and Jon Sundvold on the decision.
All individuals inside Auburn Area might be required to put on a face overlaying always and keep acceptable social distancing. Go to the Males’s Basketball Gameday web page at AuburnTigers.com for extra data.
The primary dedication within the freshman class, Justin Powell has proved to be a key cog for Auburn early within the season. Powell is averaging 10.7 factors and 6.7 rebounds per recreation off the bench. His scoring output ranks third on the crew, whereas his effort on the glass is second. He’s tied for the third-most rebounds by a freshman guard within the nation with 20 via three video games.
Friday’s matchup is about to be the 12th in collection historical past between Auburn and South Alabama. The Tigers boast a slight 7-Four benefit within the collection and have gained the final 4 duels, together with final yr’s thrilling 70-69 victory in Cell. With the win, head coach Bruce Pearl improved to 3-Zero all-time in opposition to the Jaguars in his profession with wins in 2006, 2018 and 2019.
Auburn is 71-17 all-time in opposition to Division I non-conference foes from the state of Alabama and has gained its final eight courting again to 2010.
Auburn Area has turn into one of many hardest environments to play within the nation. The Tigers have been particularly good at dwelling in opposition to non-conference competitors below Pearl as they boast a 40-Three mark (.930), which trails solely Arkansas (54-3, .947) within the SEC since 2014.
Auburn has gained 29 straight common season non-conference dwelling video games and holds an ideal document in every of the final 4 seasons. The streak is tops within the SEC by a large margin, main Arkansas (15) and Georgia (13). The final time the Tigers misplaced at dwelling to a non-conference foe was on Jan. 30, 2016 vs. Oklahoma State within the Huge 12/SEC Problem.
Auburn’s recreation in opposition to South Alabama on Friday, Dec. Four marks the most recent dwelling opener in a season since 1987 when the Tigers defeated VCU, 93-80, on Dec. 5 below former head coach and present radio analyst Sonny Smith.