AUBURN, Ala. – Early on the Tigers struggled to pull away from Georgia State. At times throughout the first half, it seemed like Auburn was trending toward their second loss of the season. Off the back of veteran precense, the Blue and Orange would be able to contain the Panthers to get back to winning ways by a score of 72-64.
Wendell Green Jr. would show how valuable his skillset is by keeping the Tigers within one score of the Panthers heading into the break. Green would drive down the lane and go up for the layup, despite being fouled the ball would find the bottom of the net. He would convert the free throw to limit the Panthers lead to a score of 31-28.
Green would go on to impress with a 17 point night despite only shooting 3-9 from the field. The guard would see his night end early when he took a hard fall with less than a minute left in the game which caused him to be helped to the locker room as he walked gingerly. This would not be before the junior secured his 1,000 point of his career from the free throw line.
“Wendell turned his ankle and will be evaluated,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said before adding he will “probably be out a couple days.”
Despite a strong showing from Green, one man would make more noise than him for Auburn. Jaylin Williams would finish the night with a season high 20 points to go along with eight rebounds. The forward provided a much-needed spark in the second half in the form of 13 points while finish shooting 8-11 from the field.
"Jaylin Williams was the best player on the floor and Jaylin is capable of being the best player on the floor," Pearl said. "Jaylin Williams needs to act like it all of the time, accept it, relish it and see if he can better, see if he can do more."
Auburn took control of the game in the middle of the second half by building a 10 point lead off a 9-0 run led by Tre Donaldson.
Donaldson, a freshman who has only played three minutes throughout the prior three games to tonight, stepped up in the absence of K.D. Johnson. Pearl did not give a specific reason why Johnson was sidelined pregame but did go on to mention after the game he was not playing due to a coach’s decision.
"He'll be available for the weekend," Pearl said when asked about Johnson’s upcoming playing time.
The former high school two sport athlete stood out while playing 18 minutes, which ranked for second most off the bench only behind Allen Flanigan. Donaldson’s most notable play of the night came when he grabbed a rebound before going all the way and putting it in for the contested layup.
"It was great to see Tre Donaldson step up," Pearl said. “It was great to see Tre come out and both make plays offensively and defensively.”
After having a total of two blocks the whole game against Memphis, Auburn was able to match that number within the first two minutes of the game. The Tigers would go on to finish with 11 blocks on defense to show how dominate they can be protecting the rim. Williams, who finished with three blocks, credited the awareness of which way the opposing players were going and capitalizing on it helped the Tigers be successful in the defensive paint.
Auburn will head out west to face USC as a part of a two-game road trip. The Tigers will face the Trojans Sunday with tip-off scheduled for 4:30 p.m. CT and broadcasting by ESPN.