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Auburn Basketball Review/Preview – Week 5 (USC, Alabama State)

Auburn made a statement over the weekend dominating a good Indiana team in Atlanta for Holiday Hoopsgiving. Then they followed that up with another victory over UNC-Asheville in the Rocket City Classic in Huntsville. The loss to Appalachian State seemed to have motivated the team to play better this week. Let’s a take a look back at their wins,

Auburn 104, Indiana 76

If I were a betting man, I’d have never guessed the final score of this game after I saw the opening of this game. The Hoosiers came out hot taking a 22-10 lead in the first five minutes of the game. Things looked gloomy, Auburn responded in a big way, outscoring the Hoosiers 42-12 to take an 18 point lead into the half.

Indiana would cut the lead down to 11 in the second half, but Auburn’s Chad Baker-Mazara and Lior Berman hit a pair of three pointers to help extend the Auburn lead to 24. The Tigers would become the first team to score 100 points against the Hoosiers in regulation since 2016.

Leading the scoring for Auburn was the duo of Aden Holloway and Jaylin Williams. Both players scored a game high 24 points. K.D Johnson was in rare form, scoring 14 points on the return to his hometown. Head Coach Bruce Pearl praised his play saying, “I’m really proud of K.D. for hanging in there and knowing this is what he can do to turn a game around.”

Auburn 87, UNC-Asheville 62

Auburn blasted off in the Rocket City Classic with a 87-62 victory over UNC Asheville. The Tigers defense continued to dominate Wednesday night, forcing 14 turnovers. The second unit, specifically, stepped up for Auburn on Wednesday.

Tre Donaldson scored a career-high 15 points off the bench. Chad Baker-Mazara knocked down three 3-pointers in a three-minute span during the second half and finished with 11 points, all in the second half. He also led the team with a career-high seven rebounds. And K.D. Johnson and Dylan Cardwell provided a spark on both ends of the court.

“We take pride in that role,” Donaldson said. “Just being the energy guys coming off the bench and not allowing a drop-off from the first group to the second group. We take pride in it. Me, K.D. and Chad, we’re just energy guys. It’s just us being ourselves.”

For Auburn, it was the third straight game away from home and the sixth this season, but there were plenty of Auburn fans in the building to cheer on the Tigers.

“I appreciated all the support,” Pearl said. “We’ve been trying to get to Huntsville for a few years now. We’ve got some of the best Auburn fans in Huntsville. We really do. It was great.”

Looking Ahead

Auburn has a big matchup coming up against the USC Trojans on December 17th. This will be Bronny James’s first road game for the Trojans. Anticipation for this game is high as Auburn fans could see LeBron James himself in Neville Arena. The Lakers do not play on Sunday so there’s a chance he shows up.

USC will stay in Alabama next week as they head to Montgomery to face Alabama State. The Hornets will then play Auburn the following weekend.

The Trojans have been up and down all season, with wins against Seton Hall and Kansas State, but have suffered losses to UC-Irvine, Long Beach State, Gonzaga, and Oklahoma. Auburn should not overlook their opponents. USC did beat Auburn last year in Los Angeles.

Alabama State will play the Trojans and Tigers back-to-back. The Hornets have been around in several matchups against Power 5 opponents. They lost by 10 to Ole Miss and led LSU Tuesday night at halftime. The Hornets were projected to finish 8th in the SWAC this year.

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