Observations: Auburn 89, Winthrop 65
After a shaky shooting start in the first week of the season, Bruce Pearl's Tigers put together an offensive performance that matched their defensive dominance.
C Johni Broome (Zach Bland/Auburn Tigers)
It should have been obvious that things were going to be different from Auburn basketball on Tuesday night from the very beginning.
Zep Jasper, who was 1-11 from the field during the first week of the season, pulled off an impressive stepback move on a Winthrop defender and drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the arc. Conventional wisdom says he shouldn’t have had the confidence to shoot that. But Jasper had spent so much extra time in the Arena, getting up shots, that he was ready to fire away.
He wasn’t the only one. On the next possession, Johni Broome blocked a shot that sent Chris Moore racing down the floor for a breakaway bucket. Then Wendell Green Jr. took a confident early 3-pointer during Auburn’s next trip down the floor and canned it. Broome scored on his first shot 40 seconds later.
Soon Allen Flanigan and K.D. Johnson checked in, Johnson had the confidence to pull up from deep. He missed, but Broome was there to put it back for two points. Just like that, a team that had struggled on offense so much in the first two games of the season hit five of its first six shots and was up double-digits before the first media timeout.
“It's good to see our hard work paying off, finally,” Broome said. “Our first two games were kinda shaky. We really didn't shoot it the best.”
Four days after a rock fight against USF that featured some truly rough offensive basketball, Auburn lit up the scoreboard in an 89-65 win over a Winthrop team that has legitimate NCAA Tournament hopes. The Tigers shot 46.6% from the field and nearly 40% from deep — a major change from the first week. They also just turned it over eight times, compared to 17 assists.
All but one of the 12 players who touched the floor for Auburn on Tuesday night scored at least four points. The Tigers used their incredible depth — only strengthened by the collegiate debut of Chance Westry after a month-plus of rehab from knee surgery — to both dominate the paint, the glass and the defensive end of the floor against an undersized small-conference foe.
And no one played more than 23 minutes.
“Guys don't have to take possessions off,” Bruce Pearl said. “It lets us run, lets them rim-run. It doesn't let them stay down in their stance. We can play harder, longer than what we did. But that's our strength.”
Here are four Observations from Auburn’s 24-point win over Winthrop, along with Rotation Charts, Nerd Stats and the Quote of the Night.
Broome and the bigs dominated like they should
If Broome’s ankle was still bothering him Tuesday night, he didn’t show it early. He had six points, three rebounds, three blocks and a steal within the first five minutes of the game. He was more than halfway to a triple-double by the 8:00 mark of the first half.
Broome finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks and two steals with zero turnovers. It was a major bounce-back for the junior center, who didn’t hit a shot and had three turnovers against USF. In just 20 minutes of action, he looked more like the dominant big man that Auburn went so hard after in the transfer portal this past offseason.
And there’s still plenty of room for him to improve.
“He's big and strong,” Pearl said. “He and Dylan (Cardwell) were big and strong out there compared to Winthrop, they just didn't have that size. I loved a couple of his takes. His take to the basket was really good. I liked him being able to finish with either hand, finishing better.
“But I have a high expectation for him, so you're not going to get me to say just great things, because we've got a lot of work to do.”