Henry Patton

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I have been writing about sports for five years now and am currently working at AuburnSports.com 

Close game Auburn strikes again as Tigers fall

It was groundhog day for Auburn.

The Tigers, who at one point led No. 2 Alabama 66-49, faltered in the final eight minutes and went on to lose 90-85 in overtime.

Since the start of SEC play, Auburn's record is 2-5 in games decided by under five points.

"Our guys have been through a lot," said Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl. "Man. I don't know that I've had this many close losses against so many great teams."

After the Tigers went up by 17, Alabama went on a 16-0 run to cut the lead to one, and after that, the Tide got to the line at will.

Dreadful second half leads to disastrous loss

Everything that could go wrong went wrong for Auburn, especially in the second half.

After going up 25-24 with 5:24 left in the first half, Auburn allowed Kentucky to go on a 62-21 run en route to an 86-54 thumping.

"We got beat in every facet of the game," said Coach Bruce Pearl. "We weren't competitive."

Ole Miss roughed up Auburn on the boards on Wednesday and Pearl said that Auburn would lose by 40 if it continued that trend

The trend continued, Kentucky outrebounded Auburn 41-23 with 12 of its boards being offensive. Pearl was off by just eight points.

How Auburn narrowly defeated Ole Miss

A win is a win, but it wasn't pretty for Auburn

The Tigers defeated Ole Miss at home 78-74 and narrowly escaped what would have been a disastrous loss.

In the win, Auburn won its first game decided by under five points since Dec. 29 against Florida.

"Needed that one," said Bruce Pearl. "Our best players stepped up. That was great to see. But we need more from our bench. You win games by getting stops and getting to the foul line. That's how you win games. We talked about it. We did a good job with that."

Still, there were lots of concerning signs from Auburn, mainly in the rebounding and penetration defense.

So why did Auburn struggle in these areas and how did it eventually pull out the win at home? Here's a deeper look:

Auburn falters in another tight game

It was another late-game heartbreak for Auburn.

The Tigers dropped another close game, this time, to Vanderbilt, 67-65 in Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday.

The two-point loss pushed Auburn's record to 3-5 in games decided by five points or fewer. The Tigers' last win in such a game was on Dec. 28 against Florida.

Auburn's crunch-time offense wasn't the issue as it put up eight points in the final 3:24, rather, the defense was the issue. Auburn allowed 10 Commodore points in the same stretch of minutes with six of those points coming from the line.

How Auburn's résumé stacks up post Missouri

On Monday, Bruce Pearl said that Missouri was Auburn’s most important game of the season.

On Tuesday, Pearl’s team responded by thumping Missouri 89-56 inside Neville Arena.

Prior to Tuesday’s matchup, Missouri boasted the No. 4 offense per Kenpom, but only put up 18 points in the first half, which was its lowest total in a half all season, and it effectively ended the game by the time the second half had started.

"We control our destiny," Pearl said. "Northwestern scored 42 against us. They just beat Purdue. We just had a chance to beat the No. 1 team in the country in Alabama. We didn't. But we had a chance. Can we hold Missouri under 73? If we do, we're going to win the game."

Williams excited about dynamic running back room

For Carnell Williams, 2023 is the first year he won’t have Tank Bigsby in his running back room since his first season coaching at Auburn, back in 2019.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his group as he heads into his fifth year on Auburn’s staff.

“I see us being a dynamic group,” Williams said.

After spending his first two years backing up Bigsby, Jarquez Hunter will head into his third season as Auburn’s No. 1 back.

In his two seasons at Auburn, Hunter has rushed for 1,261 yards and 10 touchdowns on 6.5 yards per carry.

Williams knows what Hunter is capable of on the field, so he’s challenging the junior back in a different way.

Auburn defense elite despite loss

With a rating of 83.8, Tennessee has the best defensive efficiency in the country by a wide margin per Kenpom.

Auburn’s defense was just as good as the Vols’ in enemy territory on Saturday.

No. 25 Auburn fell to No. 2 Tennessee 46-43 in Knoxville in what was an absolute rock fight of a game.

“We’ve played Tennessee a lot,” said Coach Bruce Pearl. “We’ve got some familiarity with their personnel and what they do. I’ve got so much respect for Coach Barnes and to be guarded that way makes me have even more respect. And I would think that the way we guarded him he would take notice of that from our team.”

UGA commit keeping options open

Demarcus Riddick is currently committed to Georgia, but nothing is off the table for the Rivals100 linebacker.

“I’m really keeping my options open for everybody,” he said. “I don’t really have set schools.”

It’d take a lot to flip the Chilton County High product away from the reigning champs, but there’s an important factor that will ultimately decide his recruitment.

“Just really relationships,” Riddick said. “That’s one thing I’m big about, I really have to have a relationship with the school that I really want to go to. That’s one big part of my life right now with my parents, my friends – the relationships, that’s one thing I really want with the schools that stand out right now.”

Traps and manipulation: How Auburn fell to A&M

When it rains, it pours.

Auburn had its 28-game home winning streak snapped by Texas A&M 79-63 on Wednesday.

The combination of poor offensive execution from Auburn and an out-of-body offensive performance from the Aggies was the perfect storm for the Tigers to drop a game that they shouldn't have.

Since arriving in College Station, Buzz Williams is 3-2 against Auburn and his Aggies were the last team to win in Auburn in a non-Covid year.

So what does Buzz do that has given Auburn so many issues? Here's a deeper look:

Defensive clinic leads Auburn over LSU

Auburn squeezed most of the life out of LSU's offense in the first half.

Then Auburn let LSU breathe a little before fully squeezing the life out of the Bayou Bengals.

Auburn held LSU to 29 percent shooting from the floor en route to a 67-49 win from the Maravich Center.

It's the lowest field goal percentage Auburn has held an SEC team to since 2011.

"Great scout," said guard Wendell Green. "We're executing and playing together. All five guys were locked in on defense, and it showed."

Aggressive Jaylin 'feeling' himself

Jaylin Williams has always had the ability to go off as he did on Saturday against Mississippi State. He’s just always been pass first.

All it takes is a made shot or two to change that.

“After I hit the first two I was definitely more confident in my shot,” Williams said. “Since I knocked down the first one, I was feeling myself a little bit. And going into this next game I feel very confident just being in the gym, just taking those same shots.”

An aggressive Jaylin is the best version of him.

In the five games in which Williams has shot the ball 10 or more times, he is averaging 16.6 points per game on 54 percent shooting.

Williams masterclass paces Auburn

Jaylin Williams had a pull-up three in transition, a few spot-ups and shot 5-for-7 overall from beyond the arc.

Williams ended with 21 points on a true shooting percentage of 70 percent to lead Auburn to a 69-63 win over Mississippi State.

Something got into the senior forward, but what was it? Williams couldn't tell you.

"I don't know, for real," he said, with a laugh. "I mean, my teammates trust in me. They always tell me to shoot the ball... I just continue to shoot, and then it was falling."

Tigers look to crack Davis’ zone

Playing Ole Miss during the Kermit Davis era hasn’t been a field of dreams for Auburn.

Since Davis arrived in Oxford in 2019, the series is tied at four wins apiece with the teams trading off sweeps.

“You’d love to have about a month to prepare for Kermit Davis, instead of a day and a half,” said Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl. “It’s just a hard prep because they’re so versatile. They do so many different things offensively that are well-thought-out.”

So what makes a Davis-led team difficult to play against? For starters, his defense is about as unique as it gets in college basketball.

Davis is known for his 1-3-1 zone that can morph into a 2-3. Here’s an example of that:

5-star guard 'very high' on Auburn

Saturday was a switch-up for Annor Boateng.

The 5-star guard from Little Rock, Ark., watched his hometown team get beat up by Auburn in Neville Arena. Yet he experienced it from the Tigers' perspective.

Boateng was in the Auburn locker room pregame, listened to Bruce Pearl’s game plan and experienced The Jungle.

“The crowd was great,” Boateng said. “The student section was great. They even said it was better than that when school is actually in session. Maybe, next time I can come back and watch when it’s a full crowd.”
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