Auburn won in dominating fashion over Cal State-Northridge, claiming a 116-70 victory over the Matadors Friday night. It was the fourth-most points scored in a game for an Auburn team in the Bruce Pearl era. Samir Doughty stole the show, setting a career high in points, field goals, and three pointers. He dropped 33-points, 18 of which were from three, and eight rebounds in a team leading 24 minutes played. The Tigers now have back-to-back 4-0 starts to a season for the first time since the 1988-89 season. Here are three takeaways from tonight’s game.
1. Auburn Continues to Improve in the Turnover Department
The Tigers have improved tremendously in the turnover department since they had 21 turnovers against Georgia Southern in their opener. Since the opener, the Tigers have seen a decrease in turnovers, and a cleaner way of play without as many mistakes. Tonight against CSUN, the Tigers matched their turnover low of the season at 11.
“To score 116 points and only turn it over 11 times, it’s really good,” Bruce Pearl said following the game.
Auburn played some of its finest defense of the season when they did turn the ball over, though. Off of the 11 turnovers, the Tigers only allowed two points from CSUN. Limiting turnovers also leads to more scoring chances for the Tigers, who took full advantage of that tonight. CSUN struggles defensively but Auburn shot the ball 76 times in the game, an impressive number regardless of the opponent’s defensive record.
2. Sharing the Ball, Limiting Minutes
Part of the reason Auburn was able to score so many points was the way they moved the ball around. The Tigers moved the ball up-and-down the court at a rapid pace, similar to what we saw last year with Jared Harper running the offense. The offense got out to a quick start, beginning the game on an 11-0 run which aided in their offensive success.
“We wanted to come out aggressive. Getting off to a good start was big on our plan today,” Samir Doughty said.
The offensive spark was led by 27 total assists by the team on the night. Sixteen of the 27 assists were recorded by J’von McCormick, who broke the Auburn program record. The ball movement allowed shots to open up for the offense, as well as some opportunities for crowd energizing dunks. Sharing the ball was huge in the offense tonight, it just proved too much for CSUN.
“I think we played better. We clearly shared it [the ball] and we overwhelmed our opponent, which we haven’t been able to do yet,” Bruce Pearl said.
On top of sharing the ball, Auburn saw playing time shared as well. Seventeen Tigers checked into the game by the end of the night, with no one going over 24 minutes of playing time. Anytime a team can rotate players in and out and continue to be consistent from an offensive and defensive standpoint, it's a very impressive thing. The season is long, so it will benefit the Tigers in the long run if they can limit the minutes the starters play, providing plenty of time to rest for the players.
3. Free Throws Saw Big Time Improvement
Coming into the game, Auburn’s best free throw make percentage in one game was 72% on the season. Tonight was a different story for the better. The Tigers shot 94% from behind the line, making 15-of-16 attempts. Austin Wiley, who struggled with free throws last season, made all four that he attempted tonight. Samir Doughty was 7-for-7 from behind the line, and Jamal Johnson added a pair of makes as well. Free throws are an important part of the game, and you cannot expect to win as many games if you are not able to convert on the ones that are given to you.
Overall if Auburn continues what they did tonight with its offensive efficiency and continue to show improvement for each game, they should be a serious threat come SEC play.
Bruce Pearl’s Tigers will have limited rest, their next game will be Monday against Colgate at 6 p.m. in Auburn Arena.