Auburn and Memphis, both serious contenders for Jalen Green in the offseason, met this Saturday at the Holiday Hoopsgiving event in Atlanta, Georgia and it was the Tigers of Auburn that came away with the victory.
In a very hard fought matchup, it was freshman Justin Powell that once again stepped up for the Tigers and propelled them to victory. Powell’s 26 points led both teams, shooting a very efficient 69% from the floor and 66% from three. This was Powell’s second straight game with 26 points, the other being his home debut against South Alabama.
“Justin Powell, for a freshman off guard, handling that pressure all night long was incredible,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. Powell started the game on fire, scoring the teams first 11 points but had four turnovers following the hot start. Powell eventually found his groove again and hit some big shots down the stretch for the Tigers, including his fourth three to extend Auburn’s lead to four late in the second half.
Allen Flanigan was the only other Auburn player in double figures with 16 points, along with four rebounds. Flanigan shot 50% from the floor but struggled behind the three point line, making only one of his five attempts. Auburn as a team struggled from the three point line and free throw line all night. Shooting only 25% from three and 53.8% from the free throw line, it was the inside the arc scoring from the likes of Flanigan and Jaylin Williams, who led both teams with eigh assists, was the difference maker.
“Jaylin Williams with eight assists and one turnover, he really relieved a lot of pressure in there when we got the ball to him,” said Bruce Pearl.
For Memphis, offensive struggles persisted throughout the night after a hot start. D.J. Jeffries led the Tigers in scoring with 16 points and was one of three players for Memphis in double figures. Overall, Memphis shot just 38% from the field, 28.6% from three and 47.8% from the free throw line. Memphis’s one big advantage came on the boards, with 47 rebounds to Auburn’s 37, including 23 offensive rebounds. However it was not as Auburn's stout defense was too much at times.
The Tigers of Auburn moved to 3-2, winning their second straight, while the Memphis Tigers dropped to 4-3, ending a three game winning streak.
“We’ve got a long way to go to become a good basketball team, but this was a good win,” said Bruce Pearl.
Auburn will return to action this Tuesday, back home against Texas Southern.