The Auburn Tigers (18-9, 8-6) host the Rebels of Ole Miss (10-17, 2-12 SEC) inside Neville Arena on Wednesday, February 21 at 8:00 PM CT. Here’s everything you need to know about the game before the western division rivals tip off.
Previous Meeting: 82-73, Auburn (January 10, 2023, Oxford, MS)
Auburn: The Tigers fell behind early due to a slow start within the first 8 minutes or so, but grinded out the first half and trailed only 35-34 at the halftime buzzer. The second half is where the Tigers finally found success, but did so in a very non-stereotypical Bruce Pearl coached Auburn way. Wendell Green buried two 3-pointers in the first four and a half minutes of the second half, halving the team’s total makes from behind the arc throughout all forty minutes (4-14 from 3 in the game).
However, Auburn found success down low, and continued to use that advantage to a 48 point second half performance. Johni Broome finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, Wendell Green added 15 points and 7 assists, Allen Flanigan finished with 15 points, and Jaylin Williams with 12. The Tigers shot 55.3% from inside the arc inside the Pavillion, and found themselves playing with great rhythm, only committing 10 total turnovers.
Ole Miss: The Rebels used nine 3-pointers and great free throw shooting to hang in this game for as long as possible. Jaemyn Brakefield, Matthew Murrell and Tye Fagan each made multiple shots from behind the arc, going 9-25 as a team (36%, compared to their season average of 28%).
Where the Rebels were held at a disadvantage was in the rebounding category, where Ole Miss was -10 (38-28) and gave up 12 offensive rebounds to the Tigers. That rebounding differential led to Kermit Davis’ squad giving up 46 points in the paint, which ultimately kept the Tigers out of reach when the final buzzer sounded.
Who To Watch:
Auburn: Wendell Green Jr.
It’s no secret that when Green goes, Auburn goes. It’s also no secret that when Green is “red”, Auburn stops. In Tuesday’s press conference, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl stated, “We’re going to go as Wendell does. We’re really hard to beat when he’s going”. Getting going has been a struggle as of late, hinting at Auburn’s win/loss record over the past 8 games (2-6). In fact, in 7 of Auburn’s 9 losses, Green is shooting just over 21% from the field on 69 attempts, and has committed 24 turnovers. Auburn will need Wendell Green Jr in this game to step up and nail some big time shots for the Tigers to clear lanes in the paint, otherwise the Rebels will play very condensed and force Auburn to beat them from the perimeter.
Ole Miss: Jaemyn Brakefield
In the month of February, Brakefield has become the leading force for the Rebels, scoring in double figures in four of the five games (15,24,7,14,20). He has also racked up 41 rebounds in those five games, hinting at that point increase (averaging 10.5 PPG on the season). Expect Brakefield and Broome to have a great battle inside.
It’s clear that this game is a must win for the Auburn Tigers. With Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee lurking to finish up the regular season, the Tigers would appear to be underdogs in all three, meaning 1-3 is necessary… at worst heading into March. After dropping six of the last eight, at least seven of which were VERY winnable games for the Tigers, Auburn needs to bounce back AND shoot well to build some confidence for the road ahead. Auburn currently sits as the 29th ranked team in Andy Katz March Madness Bracket, putting them at an 8 seed.
The Tigers open up as a -12.5 point favorite over the Rebels, with ESPN projecting the score to finalize at 74.5-62.