Observations: Auburn 117, Israel U-20s 56
The frontcourt newcomers dominated, the backcourt put on a show, and the veterans all showed progress as the Tigers had a massively successful first overseas game.
No one was really sure what to expect from Auburn basketball in its first game in Israel on Tuesday evening.
The Tigers are only a few days into a trip where it traveled to the other side of the world. While they haven’t played together in a competitive environment yet, their opponents had spent the summer playing with each other in international competition. Auburn wasn’t exactly expecting a repeat of its last foreign tour, when it demolished a run of Italian pro teams.
But after a somewhat slow shooting start, playing in an unfamiliar arena with international basketballs and rules, Auburn picked up right where it left off from five years ago in Europe, routing the Israel U-20 national team by a score of 117-56.
(Note: The team was listed in the official stats as the U-19 team, as the official U-20s just finished playing in the European Championships last week.)
“We played hard today,” Bruce Pearl said. “It was the first time we played together. The kids enjoyed playing with each other.”
Here are four Observations, the full box score and the quote of the game from Auburn’s Israel tour debut — the next matchup will be Sunday afternoon against a select team of Israeli League All-Stars.
The new frontcourt made quite the first impression
Pearl said last week that he expected Auburn to have a physical advantage over its similarly aged opponents from Israel. That was obvious from the opening few minutes Tuesday, and it showed up in a big way on the stat sheet: Auburn won the rebounding battle 67-29 and the points in the paint battle 72-20
That advantage came through the most in the frontcourt, where Israel didn’t have much height. While Pearl preached patience with new 5-star forward Yohan Traore, he dominated physically and led the Tigers with 20 points. He also drew six fouls and grabbed eight rebounds.
“You can see the talent, you can see the upside, you can see his ability to finish and obviously be able to play in space,” Pearl said of Traore.