Observations: Appalachian State 69, Auburn 64
The Tigers fell victim to the upset bug in college basketball, extending their team-wide shooting slump in the first true road test.
SG Denver Jones (Steven Leonard/Auburn Tigers)
BOONE, N.C. — A week filled with notable upsets in college basketball — Duke losing twice, Villanova falling to a pair of Philly rivals, Kentucky beating Miami but losing to UNC Wilmington, Marquette dropping one to Wisconsin, Purdue losing at Northwestern — also featured a court-storming at Auburn’s expense.
And while the rowdy Appalachian State student section chanted “OVERRATED!” at unranked Auburn in the final moments of the 69-64 game Sunday afternoon, this wouldn’t register too highly on the list of the week’s seismic results.
After all, App State was a top-100 KenPom team and a single-digit underdog. (The Mountaineers also beat the UNC Wilmington team that knocked off Kentucky by 30 earlier this season.) And Bruce Pearl prepped his Auburn squad for a real fight in its only true road game of non-conference play.
“Great environment in here,” Pearl said. “Great fanbase. They were awesome. They’ve got a chance to have a really good team and compete with James Madison and some of those other good teams in the Sun Belt.
“We knew coming in this was going to be like playing a middle- to lower-half SEC team, so equate them with the teams in the middle of the league.”
The numbers backed that up, and the matchup itself backed that up. While Auburn had been playing good basketball during a five-game winning streak, it’s in the midst of an offensive rut — and a new-look squad hasn’t shown that it can pull out close games on that end of the floor yet, a recurring issue from last season.
The Tigers finished with a brutal offensive performance, shooting just 39.4% from the field, 11.1% from deep and 47.4% from the free-throw line. Johni Broome, who had 21 points and 13 rebounds but went 1-7 from the line, was the only real constant threat on offense.
Those shooting numbers are usually reserved for lopsided losses. Yet, to rub salt in the wound, Auburn still had a chance to win. Auburn trailed by as many as 11 and cut it to a single-possession game in the final minutes, but it went scoreless on three straight trips down the floor.
App State, meanwhile, spent most of the second half hitting contested shots.
“I think that when you miss 10 free throws and make nine, and you miss 24 threes and make three, that’s not going to win many games,” Pearl said. “Some of that was the defense, but a lot of it was a lot of open shots. … You’ve got to make layups, you’ve got to make free throws, you’ve got to make open shots, and we weren’t able to do those things.
“That’s why we got beat.”
Here are four Observations from Auburn’s 69-64 loss at Appalachian State, along with the Rotation Charts, Nerd Stats and the Quote of the Day.
C Johni Broome (Steven Leonard/Auburn Tigers)