Auburn (1-1) beat Southeastern Louisiana (1-1) 86-71 on Friday night in its home opener. The Tigers did not play the prettiest game but still came out victorious, in large part due to star forward Johni Broome.
As a preseason All-SEC selection, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl has high expectations for the star player. Broome could have stayed in the NBA Draft, but instead decided to return to the Plains for one more season. Games like tonight show why that is very important to the success of this year's team.
The Tigers struggled shooting tonight, only shooting 40% in the game. Broome, however, was not the reason for the poor percentage. The junior finished 7-12 from the field, scoring 18 points. Broome was a reliable scorer throughout the night, and it was much needed.
For Broome, tonight was no different than any other game. The Flordia native just wants to help the team win in whatever fashion possible.
"Just sticking to the game plan," Broome said on his performance. "You know a lot about my coaches; my teammates make plays for me. And yeah, just execute when I get the ball."
Broome did not just score in the game, as he was also a factor in other ways. One positive for the Tigers overall was their rebounding, and Broome was a major reason for that success, finishing with 11 boards in the game.
On the defensive side of the ball, Auburn is struggling, but Broome continues to make it difficult for opponents to score when they drive in the lane due to his shot-blocking ability. He had two on Friday night.
As for Auburn as a whole, they know they must play better. While Broome is a special player, the rest of the team must step up and help out.
"I'm still not happy," Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said about his team's performance.
It doesn't matter how good Johni Broome plays; if the Tigers cannot play better in all aspects moving forward, the season will not go as they hope it will.
"This is not really good enough," Pearl said. "We only turned them over once in the second half, and I'm still having to coach effort and energy. And that's a problem. And I think the thing that's got to translate is how much you hate losing."
Luckily for the Tigers, they have veteran leadership like Broome, who will need to not only continue to play at a high level himself but also encourage his teammates to improve their play.
"It's got to come from our returning players," Pearl said when asked about improving his team's effort and play.
Tonight's game may not have been the most inspiring for Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl, but his Tigers found a way to win in large part thanks to a big game from their star player. The good news is that Johni Broome should only continue to play at a high level, and if the rest of the team can find ways to improve, the Tigers will have plenty of success.
Next up, Auburn will travel to New York City for the Legends Classic tournament. The Tigers will take on Notre Dame Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. CT on ESPN2.