Observations: Auburn 93, Colgate 66
The Tigers had a fantastic night from deep — led by an ultra-confident K.D. Johnson — and put away a regular NCAA Tournament team in dominant fashion.
SG K.D. Johnson (Grayson Belanger/Auburn Athletics)
It’s OK to admit it, Auburn fan.
When you saw Johni Broome miss his first shot attempt against Colgate and Chris Moore not be able to finish the putback, then watched Wendell Green Jr. miss a 3-pointer on the next possession, you probably thought something along the lines of “it’s gonna be another one those games.”
Then Auburn hit its next six shots. Then it had a 7-9 shooting stretch a few minutes later. At one point in time, the Tigers were a stunning 10-17 (58.8%) from 3-point range. That was nearly 30% higher than its season-long mark heading into the night.
“We just played well,” Bruce Pearl said. “I'm glad we started shooting the ball a little bit.”
That second sentence is a classic underselling from Pearl. Auburn shot 55.2% from the floor and hit its most 3-pointers since the last regular season finale, back in early March. The Tigers scored 90-plus points for the first time since mid-February. According to KenPom, Auburn had its highest offensive efficiency (136.1) since its 116-70 win over Cal State Northridge in November 2019.
Auburn moved the ball and shot the ball with confidence against Colgate, a highly experienced small-conference team that beat Syracuse by 12 not too long ago. The Raiders didn’t boast a great defensive effective field goal percentage coming into the contest and didn’t rely on neither rim protection nor turnover-inducing pressure.
The opportunity was there, and Auburn took advantage of it. Everybody took advantage of it. The Tigers had four players score in double figures. Four more scored either eight or nine points.
"I feel like we're hard to stop when we do that, especially with the way we play defense at Auburn,” said K.D. Johnson, who led Auburn with 16 points and a stunning 4-5 mark from downtown.
And, yes, Auburn played its usual brand of strong defense — even against one of the nation’s most efficient offenses. Colgate was held to 66 points, well under its red-hot average, and had its lowest effective field goal percentage of the season so far.
Auburn controlled the boards (39-33 in rebounds), took advantage down low (48-32 in points in the paint), was the aggressor on the break (18-3 in fast break points) and dominated with its depth (44-9 in bench points) while shooting the ball better than it’s done in a long time.
“That is just Auburn Basketball,” said Allen Flanigan, who posted 12 and 7 in his first start of the season. “That is our bread and butter. We locked down and made stops. We were able to knock down shots and we were pretty hard to contain in transition, so we just ran the floor.”
It’s just a win over a Patriot League team in the grand scheme of things. But it’s a quality win, and it’s a glimpse at what this still-undefeated roster can do when it’s firing on all cylinders.
Here are four big Observations from Auburn’s 93-66 win over Colgate, plus the Rotation Charts, Nerd Stats and the Quote of the Night.
SG K.D. Johnson (Steven Leonard/Auburn Athletics)
K.D. Johnson’s bell ‘is always rung’ — in more ways than one
It doesn’t matter that he’s coming off the bench now: Johnson is playing his best stretch of basketball since January, before he aggravated an old wrist injury that zapped his consistency late last season.
Johnson has scored double-digit points in four of his last five games, and he had nine in the lone exception. He was Auburn’s leading scorer Friday night despite playing only 18 minutes. When he checked into the game early in the first half, he scored 13 points in less than six minutes of action.
The one thing Johnson had lacked heading into the Colgate game was a breakout performance from beyond the arc. He entered Friday shooting just 25% from deep and had only hit multiple 3-pointers in a game just twice all season.
Colgate guarded him like it knew that. On one of his early 3-pointers, his man backed off of him in the corner and gave him all the room in the world for a shot attempt. Johnson drilled the 3-pointer, turned at the crowd and jerked his thumb at his defender — as if to say, “Can you believe he left me that open?”