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Seven-game win streaks collide when No. 12 Auburn hosts Murray State

Sportsnaut
Mar 6, 2021; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Auburn Tigers guard Allen Flanigan (22) turns past Mississippi State Bulldogs forward Tolu Smith (35) during the second half between the Auburn Tigers and the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Auburn Arena. Mandatory Credit: Julie Bennett-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 6, 2021; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Auburn Tigers guard Allen Flanigan (22) turns past Mississippi State Bulldogs forward Tolu Smith (35) during the second half between the Auburn Tigers and the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Auburn Arena. Mandatory Credit: Julie Bennett-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 Auburn could receive a boost to its potent lineup on Wednesday when it hosts Murray State in the final matchup before starting Southeastern Conference play.

Allen Flanigan has made significant strides in his bid to return from the torn Achilles he sustained earlier this year. Flanigan could play against the Racers (10-1), coach Bruce Pearl said shortly after the Tigers (10-1) posted their seventh win in a row with a 74-70 victory over Saint Louis on Saturday.

Flanigan averaged 14.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 2020-21. Impressive numbers to be certain, although it’s uncertain how he’ll be utilized this season.

Speaking of impressive numbers, Auburn received sterling performances from both Walker Kessler and Wendell Green Jr. en route to overcoming a 13-point deficit to defeat the Billikens. Kessler collected 19 points, nine rebounds and four blocks, while Green recorded 15 points and eight assists.

“Down 13 on the road under 10 (minutes), that’s tough,” Pearl said. “We didn’t panic. Great road win. Best one of the year so far.”

Kessler was quick to note just how important the win was for the team’s ever-growing confidence.

“This will help us tremendously,” Kessler said. “Just being down in that situation with the crowd against us, I think it’s going to be extremely important in how we handle adversity moving forward.”

The Tigers have fared pretty well with the crowd cheering them on. They are 5-0 at home this season.

Jabari Smith is averaging a robust 16.5 points per game for Auburn. K.D. Johnson (13.7) and Green (11.6) are also scoring in double digits for the Tigers.

Like Auburn, Murray State also is riding a seven-game winning streak.

The Racers can thank Tevin Brown for their success after he was named the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week for the second consecutive week on Wednesday. He is the first Murray State player to accomplish that feat since Ja Morant in 2019.

Brown erupted for a career-high 33 points and added nine rebounds in the Racers’ 87-76 win over Chattanooga on Saturday. He highlighted his performance with seven 3-pointers to push his career total to 288, which is 16 shy of the school record held by Isaiah Canaan (2009-13).

“I’m feeling it. I’m trying to put my team in the best situation to win the game,” Brown said of how he felt during Saturday’s game.

Murray State coach Matt McMahon credited his team’s second-half performance, during which it overcame a three-point deficit at intermission by erupting for 53 points.

“Tevin Brown, yet another historical, great performance here at Murray State. He was phenomenal,” McMahon said.” I thought (Justice) Hill hit big shots for us. Loved our offensive execution and shot-making and execution in the second half.”

Brown averages a robust 19.1 points per game to go along with 5.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists. KJ Williams has chipped in 16.5 points and seven rebounds per contest, while Hill has added 12.2 and a team-leading five assists.

–Field Level Media