No. 13 Auburn seeks to stay hot in meeting vs. No. 22 Ole Miss

Jan 17, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Auburn Tigers center Dylan Cardwell (44) celebrates in the closing seconds of the second half of a win against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Memorial Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

No. 13 Auburn enters Saturday night’s Southeastern Conference home matchup against No. 22 Ole Miss with a 10-game winning streak and a share of the conference lead.

The Rebels are looking to find their touch again from the 3-point line. The team that has shot 39 percent from long distance this season, good for 12th in Division I, slumped during an 89-80 loss Wednesday night at LSU.

The Rebels hit only 6 of 24 shots from 3-point range, dooming them on a night when they allowed the Tigers to shoot 48.3 percent from the floor and win the rebounding battle 42-35.

“It was more of a case of the ball not going in the basket,” Ole Miss guard Brandon Murray said. “I don’t think LSU did anything to change how we played; it’s just that the ball wasn’t going in. We had the shots.”

Given how Auburn (15-2, 4-0) has been rolling lately, the Rebels (15-2, 2-2) need to make some of those 3-pointers if they’re going to have a chance to win. Tigers coach Bruce Pearl has put together a well-rounded team, with 11 players capable of impacting the game.

Depth and balance have made Auburn a tough matchup. In its 80-65 win Wednesday night at Vanderbilt, the hot hand belonged to Jaylin Williams. He made every shot he attempted — seven from the field (including two 3-pointers) and five from the foul line — to finish with a team-high 21 points.

What really thrilled Pearl was Williams’ attitude in the locker room at halftime.

“He doesn’t say a word about his touches,” Pearl said. “He’s 5-for-5 in the first half and he’s not saying, ‘Give me the ball.’ He just plays the game the right way.”

Williams’ average of 12.5 points per game is second on the team behind only center Johni Broome (15.4 ppg, 8.6 rebounds, 1.9 blocked shots). Five other players chip in between 7.1 and 10.1 points per game for the Tigers.

Per kenpom.com, Auburn is ninth in both offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency while boasting a low turnover rate and ranking in the top 40 in offensive rebound rate. And more than 64 percent of the team’s baskets come via assists, the fifth-best rate in Division I.

Ole Miss will have to figure out a way to at least neutralize Broome inside while not forgetting about the other six players who can put together big games. And the Rebels will need good games from their top scorers, Matthew Murrell and Allen Flanigan.

Murrell leads the team with an average of 17.4 points per game and Flanigan chips in 16.5. This might be an emotional game for Flanigan, who played the last four seasons at Auburn. He averaged 10.1 points and 5.0 rebounds last season for the Tigers.

“I just felt like for my last season in college, just trying something new,” Flanigan said in October when asked why he transferred. “You never know what roads lead you to ways in life. I just wanted to try something new and find a new home.”

–Field Level Media

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