Following an impressive 82-73 road victory over Ole Miss on Tuesday night, No. 21 Auburn hosts Mississippi State looking to extend its home-winning streak to 28 games.
The Tigers (13-3, 3-1 SEC) played one of the most complete games of the season in their win over the Rebels.
Auburn shot 49 percent from the field, outrebounded Ole Miss 38-28 and had just 10 turnovers, something head coach Bruce Pearl has been harping on.
“Road wins are hard to get,” Pearl said. “The guys were locked in.”
Wendell Green Jr. was one of four Tigers — Johni Broome, Jaylin Williams and Allen Flanigan were the others — to score in double figures as Pearl’s team outscored the Rebels 48-38 in the second half. Green had 23 points, including the game’s final eight points, and dished out seven assists.
“Wendell Green was the best point guard on the floor,” Pearl said. “Again, he doesn’t get enough credit. He’s one of the best point guards in the country. He made plays on both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively. Scored, assisted, low turnovers, rebounded — a real complete game, really poised on the road. He controlled the tempo of this game.”
Broome, who is averaging 16.3 points and 11 rebounds per game in conference play, had 19 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth straight double-double. The 6-foot-10, 235-pound forward became the first Auburn player to record four straight double-doubles since Cinmeon Bowers in the 2015-16 season.
Flanigan had 15 points, five rebounds and two assists off the bench. It was the third consecutive game he has scored in double figures.
Mississippi State (12-4, 2-1 SEC) is coming off a 58-50 road defeat to Georgia and has lost of four of its last five games.
One major problem area for the Bulldogs has been the free-throw line. Chris Jans’ team is shooting just 59.8 percent from the charity stripe, which is ranked 348th nationally out of 352 teams.
In the loss to the Bulldogs, Mississippi State went 7 of 22 from the free-throw line, which played a major role in Jans’ team losing the game.
“We were 7 of 22 and it’s become contagious for us,” Jans said. “I don’t remember a four-game stretch anything quite like this. It’s like it’s become a disease within our program and it’s my job to try to help them.”
Despite the team’s struggles from the foul line, the Bulldogs are one of the nation’s best defensive teams. Mississippi State is ranked fifth nationally in scoring defense (56.8 points per game) and tied for sixth in steals (10.2 per game).
Tolu Smith is the only Bulldogs player who averages double-digits in scoring (13.6 ppg). He’s also averaging 7.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists.
D.J. Jeffries (9.2 points, 6.2 rebounds), Dashawn Davis (7.7 points, 3.1 assists), Cameron Matthews (6.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists) and Eric Reed Jr. (5.9 points) round out Mississippi State’s starting lineup.
Shakeel Moore had 15 points off the bench against Georgia and is Jans’ top performer in that role.
–Field Level Media