Three Takeaways From Auburn’s Win Over NC State

Auburn remains one of four teams in the nation without a loss, and the undefeated streak was extended to 10-games with a 79-73 victory over NC State Thursday night. The Tigers avenge last year’s 78-71 loss to the Wolfpack, where they committed 25 turnovers. 

“Last year’s team couldn’t beat this team, and this year’s team did,” Bruce Pearl said post game.

It was a big win for the Tigers, who limited NC State to 73 points, nearly 10 points below its average points per game. Here are three things that made the difference in Thursday night’s affair. 

1. Austin Wiley

The senior’s presence was very evident in what was a very physical game. He led the team with eight rebounds, two offensive boards and six defensive boards. Wiley was a perfect 4-4 from the field and 2-2 from the free throw line, accounting for 10 points. His development as a player has progressed from last year, as Bruce Pearl described postgame.

“A year ago, they would have brought Austin out on ball screens, and it would have been a challenge. [Tonight], It wasn’t,” Pearl said. 

Pearl had high praise for Wiley, who played 20 minutes. 

“I should have played him more. He was dominant on both ends. Austin was up tackling the ball screen, he was back changing at the rim. He was a factor,” Pearl said.

Wiley also had a one-handed-slam in the second half, which gave Auburn a 66-64 lead with 3:35 remaining in the game. The dunk came after an NC State traveling turnover where Auburn caught the Wolfpack off guard on the in bounds, with Wiley wide open under the basket.

“I didn’t expect it to be that open. I just dunked it,” Wiley said.

2. Defense Wins Championships

This Auburn team is not as dominant offensively as last year’s team, and they know this. To counter this, this year’s team has stepped up on the defensive side of the basketball. NC State is very efficient on the offensive side of the ball, the Wolfpack are top 10 when it comes to offensive efficiency. Auburn’s defense caused problems for NC State, who shot just 42.9% from the field. 

“We have to be a great defensive team to win games, we aren’t as good at scoring as we were last year, we just really focus on defense,” Samir Doughty said. 

Auburn’s defense has allowed 67.7 points per game through 10 games this season.

3. Playing Down the Final Stretch

Anytime a game is close within the final minutes of the game, the way a team closes out a game is very important. Auburn was able to close out the game, despite a late comeback effort by NC State, who knocked down a three point shot to bring it within five with less than a minute to go in the game. Auburn answered with their own three point shot by who other than Samir Doughty with 25 seconds left to effectively end the game. 

“That wasn’t the play call, but it was a second option. It was a pretty good option,” Doughty said about the late three-point shot.

With NC State trailing late, the Wolfpack began to foul, sending Auburn to the free throw line in hopes of prolonging the game. Auburn closed out the game 4-4 from the free throw line, all courtesy Samir Doughty. Doughty finished the game with 24 points. 

Auburn looks ahead to their next match up, a home game against Lehigh University on Saturday night in Auburn Arena. Tip off is at 5 p.m. CT and the game will be broadcast on SEC Network.