Observations: Auburn 85, Bradley 64
In their first game away from home this season, Bruce Pearl's Tigers played their best offensive ball so far — and it came at just the right time on the schedule.
PG Wendell Green Jr. (Steven Leonard/Auburn Athletics)
Maybe it’s something about leaving the country.
Last season, Auburn basketball hadn’t played consistently well on offense before the week of Thanksgiving. Then, inside a converted ballroom on a foreign resort, the Tigers scored 83 points in regulation against UConn.
This season, Auburn basketball hadn’t played consistently well on offense before the week of Thanksgiving. Then, inside a converted ballroom on a foreign resort, the Tigers scored 85 points in regulation against Bradley.
“When we ran offense and we got the right spacing, we got good looks, we took care of the ball,” head coach Bruce Pearl said Tuesday evening. “When we got out of character and the wrong guy is bringing the ball up the floor, you know, just scrambling around, we weren’t nearly as productive. But it was good to see us shoot the ball in rhythm, and it was good to see us oftentimes get really good looks.”
Auburn scored 89 points against Winthrop last week, but it wasn’t on nearly as good of a shooting performance as this one. The Tigers shot 60.5% on 2-pointers, 47.1% on 3-pointers and 75% on free throws. They recorded an effective field goal percentage of 63.6% — almost 11 whole points better than the Winthrop game and the first time it was above 60% eFG since beating Vanderbilt on February 16.
And Auburn only scored 7 of those 85 points against Bradley on the fast break. Only 17 came off of turnovers. The vast majority of what the Tigers generated came in true half-court sets.
“These last couple days in practice down here, we’ve really been running our stuff really fast, trying to be more precise in our passing, our movements, executing a little bit better,” center Johni Broome said. “We run in transition a lot, but if our half-court offense can get better, we’re a dangerous team, like you saw tonight.”
On top of that, Auburn allowed just 64 points to Bradley. That means the Tigers have allowed 65 points or less to their first five opponents of the season for the first time since 2003.
Like the offense, the defense wasn’t perfect. But it had stretches of real excellence in Auburn’s first game away from home.
Here are four Observations from Auburn’s 85-64 win over Bradley in Mexico, including the Rotation Charts, some Nerd Stats and the Quote of the Night.
Hitting 56.4% of your shots against anybody is pretty good
Let’s start out with an important note: Bradley wasn’t close to full-strength for this game. Fifth-year senior Ja’Shon Henry and sophomore Zek Montgomery, who both started the Braves’ most recent win, were out with injury.
This was important enough that Pearl mentioned it before he said anything else about the game, then he went straight into praising Bradley — a usual contender in a tough mid-major conference.
“Bradley was shorthanded tonight,” Pearl said. “They had a couple of guys out. They’re going to have a good year in that league. Bradley will finish in the top three or four in the Valley. They’ll compete for that championship with Drake and a couple of other teams. So it’s a good win.”
But for an Auburn team that had a hard time getting consistent offense inside its own area during the first two weeks of the season, putting up this type of performance against anybody is a major development.
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