Film Room: 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'
Auburn pulled off its comeback win over Saint Louis by going to a simple yet devastating play on 11 straight possessions. Here's how it worked.
PG Wendell Green Jr. (Auburn Athletics)
With less than eight minutes left on the scoreboard, Auburn was down to Saint Louis by a dozen points. Point guard Wendell Green Jr. walked the ball up the floor with the Tigers’ offense desperate for anything to work.
Auburn had only hit four of its last 17 shots from the field, watching its 8-point halftime lead evaporate and turn into a big lead for the hosts. On its most recent possession, shooting guard K.D. Johnson split a pair of free throws after getting knocked to the ground on a possession where the Tigers couldn’t get a clean look.
Bruce Pearl called the play from the sideline. Walker Kessler — all 7-foot-1 of him — would set a high ball screen for Green as freshman phenom Jabari Smith cut to the corner and Johnson rolled up to the wing.
Kessler didn’t get all the way to the top of the key to set the screen for Green, reading the defensive coverage and deciding to slip early to the basket. Kessler’s defender, Francis Okoro, floated back to defend the drive by Green. That left Kessler open for a lob, and he was fouled on it by a backside help defender who pulled off of Smith.
Auburn’s big man almost finished the alley-oop in traffic anyway. He hopped a couple of times after the miss — body language that screamed “we almost had that.”
Kessler went to the line and split the free throws. Auburn was still down by double-digits, but something was cooking.