There is a lot of good and not much bad for Auburn basketball at the moment.
The Tigers rolled to two more SEC wins this week, defeating Vanderbilt 80-65 and Ole Miss 82-59. Auburn kept a win streak going and stayed unbeaten in the conference.
So there are lots of good to choose from for this week’s 3 good things, 3 bad things, but we may have to get a little nit-picky to find three downsides as the Tigers keep cruising.
Let’s start with the good…
1. Avoided any weirdness in Vanderbilt’s gimmick of an arena. For whatever reason, the unusual layout of Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium — with the benches on the baselines instead of the sidelines — always seemed to give Auburn problems. Not this year. Auburn’s 80-65 win Wednesday was the Tigers’ 16th win in 55 tries in the building. Auburn had lost 10 in a row in Memorial from 2002 to 2017, but Wednesday’s win marks Auburn’s third in the last four games there.
2. Spoiled Allen Flanigan’s return to Auburn, and continued to expose Ole Miss. Ole Miss rode a 13-0 non-conference record into a top-25 ranking, but the Rebels have struggled since starting SEC play. Ole Miss fell to 2-3 in the league with the loss against Auburn. Former Tiger Allen Flanigan transferred over to Oxford in the offseason, following his dad (assistant coach Wes Flanigan). Flanigan, a four-year Auburn player, was met with boos from the Auburn fans in his return to Neville Arena Saturday and shot just 3-for-10 from the floor, though he did lead the Rebels in scoring with 10.
3. Kept win streak alive and grabbed first place in the conference. It’s obviously still early, but sole possession of first place in the SEC is the ideal place to be after five games of conference play. Auburn is the only team to remain unbeaten in SEC action. Auburn extended its win streak to 11, which is its longest since a 19-game streak during the 21-22 season. Each of Auburn’s 16 wins have come by at least 11 points.
And now for the bad (which is a relative term)…
1. Let Vanderbilt hang around early. Yeah, that’s right, things have been going that well for Auburn. We’re having to reach for “bad” things. Auburn allowed 5-13 Vanderbilt to stay in the game early, and the Commodores led 16-14 at the 12-minute mark of the first half. Of course, Auburn took control right afterwards. A 25-4 run gave Auburn a commanding lead, and Auburn cruised to a win.
2. Committed too many turnovers against Ole Miss. Against Vandy, Auburn had 10 turnovers, which is right on the Tigers’ average for the year. Against Ole Miss, the Tigers were a little more sloppy. Auburn committed 16 turnovers against the Rebels. Though, that was mitigated a bit with Auburn forcing 17 Ole Miss turnovers and scoring 22 points off of them.
3. Auburn didn’t win by *as many* as they could have. Again, having to nitpick. It’s obviously hard to get a huge lead to begin with in SEC games. But, against Ole Miss, Auburn led by 35 at 75-40. Ole Miss outscored 19-7 the rest of the game to sink the final margin to *only* 23 at 82-59. Against Vanderbilt, Auburn led by as many as 22 early in the second half, but Vanderbilt managed to cut the final score to 80-65. It’s only natural for the intensity to wane a little in garbage time of blowout wins, but Auburn has to be careful to avoid a potential collapse against better teams.