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Why Auburn’s Offense Struggled in Losses to Alabama, Florida

J’Von McCormick (5) at Florida – Jan. 18, 2020

Credit: Matt Pendleton/Auburn Athletics
J’Von McCormick (5) at Florida – Jan. 18, 2020 Credit: Matt Pendleton/Auburn Athletics

Auburn fell to Alabama by 19 points on Wednesday and followed that up with a 22-point loss to Florida. Auburn’s offense came up well short of its season averages with 64-point and 47-point performances.

The last time Auburn failed to score 50 points was on February 9, 2016, when Tennessee held the Tigers to 45 points and Bryce Brown led the way in scoring with 18 points.

On Saturday, Danjel Purifoy led the way for Auburn with 10 points while the rest of the scoring was evenly distributed.

Some struggles came in areas which were considered strengths prior to this week while at least one area was the norm.

Coach Bruce Pearl was not happy with the way Auburn created opportunities.

“I think the biggest thing that we can do offensively is find ways to have more than seven assists,” Pearl said following the loss to Florida. “Our playmaking guards can do a better job of making plays for others. I thought we got the ball inside to Austin [Wiley] a lot. We could have gotten it in there a little more.”

Auburn averaged 14.3 assists per game prior to this week with McCormick leading the way with 5.1 per game. Auburn only recorded 15 total assists against Alabama and Florida.

Wiley finished with nine points against Florida, but he missed six shots around the rim. This was common for Auburn against Alabama and Florida.

Auburn was the No. 4 team in the nation in 2-point field goal percentage before Wednesday’s game. The Tigers were 11-25 on layups and dunks against Alabama and 7-17 against Florida.

Auburn made a living during its first 15 games of the season inside the lane using its strength and size to score and draw fouls.

Samir Doughty, the Tigers leading scorer, struggled this week. He was a combined 5-23 from the field and 2-9 from 3-point range in both games. He made those two 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions in the second half against Florida.

Doughty dictates the offense for Auburn and when not scoring had done a good job at creating opportunities for teammates, but he only had 3 assists combined in the previous two games. He tweaked his Achilles against Alabama according to Pearl.

Turnovers caused many problems for Auburn against Alabama when they committed 21, but they were able to fix that problem against Florida by only committing eight. Alabama scored 24 points off turnovers.

Slow Starts have been an issue for Auburn all season, but the Tigers were particularly bad early in the first halves of both games.

After scoring six points in the first 3:40 against Alabama, Auburn went 9:06 before making another field goal with the only points scored on free throws. The slow start against Florida was almost as bad as it could be.

Auburn did not get on the board against Florida until a Danjel Purifoy 3-pointer 6:46 into the game and would not score again until a pair of J’Von McCormick free throws with 12:51 left in the half.

The Tigers did not deal with many of these problems through non-conference play or the first three SEC games, but Pearl will have to find a way for his team to regroup and move forward.

Looking ahead, Auburn will have to bounce back on Wednesday at home against a surging South Carolina team that is on a 2-game winning streak which includes a win against Kentucky.

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