Auburn Men’s Basketball 2018-19 regular season recap
The Auburn Tigers headed into the 2018-19 campaign with lofty expectations following a regular season SEC title and their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003. Auburn lost Mustapha Heron, Desean Murray and Davion Mitchell from that tournament team, but added Austin Wiley, Danjel Purifoy and Samir Doughty. Auburn’s regular season was a roller coaster but ended on a high note.
The Tigers had a strong non-conference schedule that they went 11-2 over. The wins included a dominating win over Washington and a neutral site overtime victory over UAB. The losses were to #1 Duke by six in Maui and on the road to NC State by seven.
Auburn was in solid position heading into SEC play but opened up the conference schedule 2-4 before a three-game winning streak at home. They continued the up and down stretch until a four-game winning streak to end the season including an upset on senior day over #5 Tennessee.
Auburn was strong statistically in many categories including three-point field goals made, assists and steals. Auburn did struggle in rebounding though and it cost them several games.
Anybody who has watched Auburn this season knows how important the three-point shot was to them this season. They made 343 while attempting 915 which is 152 more than Florida who shot the second most threes. If Auburn can shoot the three well during tournament play, they have a chance to make a deep run.
Auburn is tied atop the SEC in steals per game with 9.2. This is also credited as one of the biggest keys to success for Auburn to help their transition offense.
An underrated key for Auburn has been assists. They are third in the conference averaging 14.7 assists per game. You can credit Jared Harper with a majority of those as he averages almost six per game. He acts as the floor general and the quarterback for this Auburn team.
Where Auburn seems to struggle the most is on the boards where they only grab 35.4 rebounds per game which is good for 11th in the SEC. Chuma Okeke leads the Tigers averaging 6.8 rebounds per game. Austin Wiley dealing with injuries throughout the season has certainly had an effect on Auburn’s ability to rebound as they miss his 6’11” frame. Against Kentucky, Auburn was out-rebounded 43 to 24. Auburn lost that game 80-53. The Tigers have to put up at least a decent rebounding effort to be successful.
The Auburn Basketball roller coaster is probably not over with postseason play approaching, but with their second consecutive 20-win season, many will consider the season a success regardless of how it ends. Auburn only had nine 20-win seasons prior to Bruce Pearl’s arrival at Auburn. It is just the nature of college basketball to have rough stretches throughout a season, but all that matters is playing your best basketball in March.