If only Marshall Henderson could participate in tonight's festivities...
|OM O||Auburn D||Auburn O||OM D|
|eFG%||50.5% (127)||49.4% (170)||51.4% (90)||47.2% (100)|
|TO%||16.1% (55)||18.3% (186)||17.2% (94)||20.5% (69)|
|OR%||32.1% (155)||29.7% (103)||33.9% (110)||36.1% (309)|
|FTR||45.9 (80)||39.2 (149)||46.7 (73)||39.1 (148)|
It's the conference opener for both teams tonight as the Rebels and Tiger square off in Oxford. Last year's trip to Oxford was an unpleasant one for Auburn as the Rebels skulldragged them for 40 minutes in an 88-55 victory.
The Rebels will be without the services of Marshall Henderson tonight, who will be serving game 2 of his 3-game suspension. He will also miss Saturday's game in Starkville. While that will obviously dramatically impact our offense, I'm interested to see how it affects us defensively. It's been discussed ad nauseum here, but our biggest weakness is our defensive rebounding. Without Henderson on the floor, we can play more man-to-man D, which will likely leave our bigs in much better rebounding position than when in a 2-3 Zone.
Someone *Cough* SNOOP! *Cough* has got to step up as a second scorer tonight. Jarvis Summers has been incredible all season and will no doubt be the focus of Auburn's D tonight. He scored 28 points in the season opener against Troy while Henderson served his first game of his 3-game suspension. Auburn's defense has been pedestrian at best this year.
And while their offensive numbers look strong, consider that they've played one of the weakest schedules in the country so far this season. While they do have quality home wins over Clemson and Georgia Tech, they also lost at home to Northwestern State and gave up 111 points in the process. The lost 99-70 to Iowa State in their only other road game of the season. They are a 2-man show with 6'4 G K.T. Harrell (a UVA Transfer) pumping in 19.4ppg on 60.0% eFG%, 3.6 rpg, and 1.9 apg. 6'2 G Chris Denson adds 19.0 ppg on 53% eFG%, 5.5 rpg, and 2.9 apg.
The Tigers don't run a lot through their post guys, although 7'0 226 lb Asauhn Dixon-Tatum has been an effective shot blocker and offensive rebounder in his 22 minutes/game. Sebastian Saiz and Demarco Cox should both have effective games tonight Auburn is not really built to handle strength down low.
This is a must win game. We get a rare opportunity to open conference play at home - just the 4th time in 16 years - and we do it against one of the weaker teams in the league. As I said in the non-conference review I posted here, this team has the talent to make a run in the SEC. Every team the Rebels have lost to this season is better than Auburn. I think we'll see a very focused Rebel team tonight that plays great defense and - for the first time in a while - rebounds the ball defensively.
(Sure to be terribly, terribly wrong) Predictions:
Ole Miss 75, Auburn 64
The Rebels outrebound an opponent for the first time since November
Sebastian Saiz posts his first career double double
The Good Snoop shows up, has 15 points 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals
(As always, the national rankings pulled from kenpom.com, quite possibly the coolest site on the whole wide intertubes... Red Cup Rebellion excluded of course)