The Auburn Tigers opened up the 2018-19 season with a 101-58 win over South Alabama. Something that stood out to most was Auburn’s three-point shooting. In the win, the Tigers shot 47.4 percent from the three-point line. Last season, Auburn relied heavily on three-point shots. Based off the season opener, it seems that will continue for Auburn.
To start the game, Auburn made five consecutive three-pointers. They did not attempt a two-point shot until more than five minutes into the game when Chuma Okeke missed a layup. They continued the three-point barrage throughout the first half and ended the half shooting 70.6 percent from three with over half of their shot attempts being from three.
The second half was a much different story as the Tigers only shot 28.6 percent from three. They opened the second half missing four straight three-point shots. They then had a nine-minute stretch where they missed eight consecutive three point shots.
Last season, the three-point shot was ultimately the downfall of Auburn’s season once the SEC and NCAA tournament hit. In losses against Alabama and Clemson, Auburn shot 8-33 and 7-32 from the three-point line.
That was of course a team down to eight scholarship players with Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley ineligible and Anfernee McLemore injured. In the game where Auburn lost McLemore to injury at South Carolina, they had their worst three-point performance of the year going 5-27 and lost that game by nine points.
Of course, the South Alabama game may not be the best indicator for what Auburn’s plan will be down the stretch of the season and during SEC play as they were missing two key players. Austin Wiley is still dealing with a nagging ankle injury which he could return from Friday night against #25 Washington and Danjel Purifoy is suspended for the first 30 percent of Auburn’s games.
Purifoy is expected to return in December for Auburn’s road game against UAB. When you add the 6-foot-11 Wiley and 6-foot-7 Purifoy to the mix, the Tigers may try to establish more of an inside presence.
For Auburn to make a deep tournament, they will have to prove what they were not able to last year. Can this team win if they do not shoot lights out from three? This Friday night will be the next step for Auburn to find out even more about themselves.