The time has finally come for another basketball season on the plains. After the way that football season has gone at Auburn this year, I for one am very excited about basketball season. After a few frustrating years with Jeff Lebo as the coach, there is renewed optimism due to some new faces and some quality veterans.
The Tigers played their one and only exhibition game last Friday night against Morehouse College. It was an impressive display of shooting and defense as Auburn easily won 98-50.
A lot of statistics looked very good for the Tigers, including forcing 23 turnovers and only committing 10. They won the rebounding battle 47 to 35 and shot 51 percent from the field.
Junior college transfer Tay Waller lit up the scoreboard, scoring 27 points in 21 minutes. He made seven three pointers, and looked very comfortable on the floor with the veteran players. Quantez Robertson also played very well. He recorded 19 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists and played point guard for most of the game.
Korvotney Barber was quiet in his return to action after a wrist injury last year and had four points, four rebounds, and three blocks. DeWayne Reed was in double figures with 14 points, and even reserves Jake Drum and Josh Wallace played significant minutes in the second half and scored. Everyone on the roster scored except for junior Francis Aihe, who was 0-4 from the field.
It was a solid win that featured solid performances by almost each member of the team. In years past, exhibition games have been challenging for the Tigers and have even featured losses to teams like AU-Montgomery.
Now, after recording one of the biggest wins in recent memory, the Tigers prepare to open up the regular season at home against the Missouri State Bears.
Missouri State has been a very solid program in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) for the past few years. They have made the NIT the last three years in a row, which is more than Auburn can say. They have a new coach this year, Cuonzo Martin, who will bring his Bears team in looking for an opening night upset.
Auburn's senior forward Rasheem Barrett will be available tonight after a groin pull in preseason practice, while do-it-all freshman Frankie Sullivan is still sidelined with a fairly serious ankle sprain.
The starting five will probably be Quantez Robertson, Tay Waller, Korvotney Barber, junior college big man Johnnie Lett, and Rasheem Barrett. If Barrett comes off the bench, look for DeWayne Reed to get the start.
In my opinion, if Auburn plays the way they did last week against Morehouse, they will win fairly easily. Auburn must play hard on defense, force turnovers, and take good shots on the offensive end. A successful non-conference season is critical if Auburn wants to make the postseason for the first time since 2003.
I'll have a complete breakdown of the opener later this weekend. I hope to be a source of information for Auburn basketball fans throughout this season. Feel free to comment, ask questions, debate my opinions, etc.