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Auburn Basketball's Early Season Offensive Struggles

J’Von McCormick (5) at South Alabama

Nov. 12, 2019

Credit: Josh Wetzel/Auburn Athletics
J’Von McCormick (5) at South Alabama Nov. 12, 2019 Credit: Josh Wetzel/Auburn Athletics

Auburn Basketball has gotten off to a fast start by opening the season 3-0. The Tigers scored 83, 76 and 70 points in the wins, respectively. This is an average of 76.3 points per game which is a good compliment to a defense allowing only 69.7 points per game. Auburn has struggled to protect the basketball and make free throws so far this season, though.

With the departures of Jared Harper, Bryce Brown and Chuma Okeke, Auburn lost plenty of experience and talent in the backcourt after the Final Four run. The 2018-19 Auburn Tigers turned the ball over 11.7 times per game with Harper averaging 2.35 per game, Brown had 1.65 per game and Okeke averaged 1.74 per game.

Seniors J’Von McCormick and Samir Doughty and freshman Isaac Okoro have replaced those three for the 2019-20 season. Auburn is averaging 15.7 turnovers per game as a team. Individually, McCormick is averaging three turnovers per game, Doughty averages 3.3 and Okoro has 2.3 per game.

In Auburn’s home opener against Georgia Southern, the Tigers turned it over 21 times. They turned it over 15 times against Davidson and 11 times against South Alabama.

The positive for Auburn is that they have decreased the number of turnovers in every game so far. 

Auburn is experienced, but its entire lineup is in a new role and will take time to adjust as the season continues. As the team gels together even more, expect the turnovers to decrease.

The other area which Auburn has struggled with is free throw shooting. Its 63.4% free throw shooting is tied for ninth in the SEC.

The 2018-19 Tigers shot 71.1% from the charity stripe with Jared Harper and Bryce Brown both shooting above 80%. Samir Doughty, who is back for his senior year, was third on the team shooting 78.5% from the line.

Doughty leads the way early in the 2019-20 season making 83.3% of his free throws. Transfer Jamal Johnson, who sat out last season, is second on the team at 80%.

Looking elsewhere, only Danjel Purifoy has a better free throw percentage than 66.7%. Anfernee McLemore has made 66.7% of his free throws, Austin Wiley has made 61.5% of his, Devan Cambridge has made 60%, Isaac Okoro has made 58.3% and J’Von McCormick has made only 22.2% of his free throws.

Auburn’s games against Davidson and South Alabama might have played out differently if they had shot better free throws. Auburn shot 22-35 against Davidson and 12-22 against South Alabama for a combined average of 59.6%.

Auburn will look for continued improvement as it gets into the thick of non-conference play. It will be important for Auburn to clean up the struggles by the time SEC play begins.

Auburn will be in action on Friday against the CSUN Matadors in Auburn Arena at 6 p.m. on SEC Network.

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