A Couple of Takeaways from Auburn Basketball's Win over Georgia Southern
Fresh off the best season in program history, Auburn's men’s basketball team took down Georgia Southern 83-74 in their season opener Tuesday night. The win was not the beat-down fans saw in last year’s opener, but Georgia Southern is what Bruce Pearl calls “One of the most challenging scouts for an opening game”. In fact, in Joe Lunardi’s preseason bracketology, Georgia Southern is listed as a 15-seed. Nonetheless, what can we learn and take away from Tuesday’s win? Here are a couple things.
Turnovers are a Problem
Auburn struggled with turnovers against Georgia Southern. Credit to the Eagles defense, but many turnovers arose from poor decisions by the Tigers. The offense tended to go fast, but several times this was too fast. Auburn had nine bad passes picked off by Georgia Southern, which translated to nine points for the Eagles. Georgia Southern had 21 points off of the Tigers 21 total turnovers, the most committed in a game by the Tigers since the NC State game of last season (Auburn had 25).
It’s the first game of the season, so there is no reason to hit the panic button. Plenty of time for the Tigers and Coach Pearl to correct the mistakes.
“We just have to keep growing, we just have to keep learning. This team is going to get better fast”, Pearl said following the game.
Auburn Will Play Their Freshmen
Auburn lost several players to the NBA and to graduation following their historic Final Four run, and the Tigers were forced to replenish their roster with a strong freshman class. The freshmen who played made an immediate impact on the game, especially Isaac Okoro, who made the start at forward. Auburn made it clear Tuesday that they will play several freshman throughout the game, not just Okoro. Let’s break down how each one played in their collegiate debut.
Isaac Okoro (F)- Okoro’s official collegiate debut was well anticipated. According to 247Sports, Okoro’s signing was rated as the second-highest signing in program history. He did not disappoint on Tuesday, scoring 12 points in 30 minutes of play, while recording five rebounds. Okoro played more minutes than any other freshman, which was expected, and Auburn fans should be familiar with the name Isaac Okoro over the coming season.
Tyrell Jones (G)- Tyrell Jones checked in for one minute in the first half and that was all we saw of the freshman from Chicago. Pearl said post game, “My plan was to rotate Tyrell in at point guard, but he came in and struggled early. Just felt like we needed to come back with him against Davidson.”
Allen Flanigan (G)- A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, the freshman Flanigan played seven minutes against Georgia Southern, recording a rebound in his debut. Expect to see him rotated in and out with the other freshman guards.
Devan Cambridge (G)- Cambridge saw 15 minutes of play Tuesday night, and had a solid debut. He hit a pair of three-point jumpers to close the first half, propelling Auburn into a 41-37 lead heading into the locker room. He also recorded three rebounds. As the season goes on, keep an eye on Cambridge as one of Auburn’s many impact freshmen.
While Auburn no longer has Jared, Chuma Okeke, or that guy Bryce Brown, this Auburn team should be a fun one to watch. With returning players like Purifoy, McLemore, Doughty and McCormick all stepping into veteran roles, the development of the Auburn team will be quite entertaining throughout the season.
Auburn plays its next game against Davidson on Friday at 5 p.m. EST in Annapolis, Maryland. The game will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.