Observations: Auburn 94, Georgia 73
The Tigers got their revenge and then some, going inside-out for a dominant win ahead of a brutal second half of SEC play.
C Johni Broome (Zach Bland/Auburn Athletics)
Auburn’s first points against Georgia on Wednesday night won’t make any season-long highlight reels.
After all, they came after a series of misfires. Johni Broome was left open for a rare 3-pointer, but he missed, and it was deflected out by Georgia. After Allen Flanigan missed his attempt from deep a few seconds later, Broome grabbed the offensive board.
Then Zep Jasper missed his triple. Again, Broome was there to get the offensive rebound. Wendell Green Jr. was next. Missed 3. Broome rebound. This time, he went right back up with it and scored through the foul from Georgia point guard Terry Roberts — who torched the Tigers in their first meeting.
The sequence of miss-rebound-miss-rebound-miss-rebound-miss-rebound-putback-and-one gave Auburn an early lead. It was also a tone-setter, according to both Georgia head coach Mike White and the Auburn big man.
“Coming into the game, we knew we had to be the more physical team,” Broome said. “You know, last time we played them, they kind of beat us on the offensive glass. So we kind of took that a little personally.”
Those three offensive rebounds would be the first of 18 total boards for Broome, tying a career-high that he set back at Morehead State. That putback were the first two of 48 points in the paint from the Tigers.
That start defined the rest of the game. Auburn unable to hit its jumpers for a stretch? Didn’t matter, it was going to end up a dominant +30 points in the paint. Georgia getting bizarrely hot from deep in the second half? Didn’t matter, all of that was going to be too little, too late.
Even with Georgia hitting 14 3-pointers Wednesday night, Auburn still cruised to a 21-point victory, avenging a double-digit loss in Athens from a month earlier. After Green hit the first of back-to-back 3-pointers that capped a 17-0 run, Georgia didn’t come within 15 points for the final 26 minutes and change.
“We played them in really early January,” Bruce Pearl said. “And that night, they were better than us. We played them about a month or so later. And tonight, we were better than them. So that's a good sign. I think it says our team's improving.”
Auburn went inside-out to score a season-high 94 points on Georgia, which only allowed 64 in Athens less than a month ago.
Broome became the first Tiger to have at least 18 points and 18 rebounds in the same game since Cinmeon Bowers in 2016. Green had 18 points and six assists with just two turnovers, completely flipping his last game against Georgia. And Flanigan scored 22, missing just two shots from the field, in his best offensive performance since he suffered an Achilles injury last offseason.
After back-to-back losses last week and before a second half of the SEC slate in which Auburn is projected to be an underdog six out of nine times — starting with a road trip to face a Tennessee team that will be itching to rebound after a loss to Florida — this was the kind of game the Tigers knew they needed to have.
“Everybody knew that we got Tennessee on Saturday,” Broome said. “But I feel like the guys and myself had to come out and put on a show today in order to prepare for that game. We knew we couldn’t come out and play around with Georgia.”
Here are five Observations from Auburn’s 94-73 thumping of Georgia, along with the Rotation Charts, Nerd Stats and the Quote of the Night.
C Dylan Cardwell (Zach Bland/Auburn Athletics)
The centers ‘absolutely dominated’ a favorable matchup
If a team is going to take care of business as a home favorite and avoid the big upset, it absolutely has to maximize its mismatches.
Against Georgia, the clear advantage was at the center spot. Broome entered Wednesday averaging 13.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Georgia’s starting center on Wednesday, Frank Anselem, was averaging 3.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
Broome was by far Auburn’s best player against Georgia the first time around, notching 22 points and 12 rebounds. And he was even better in the rematch, scoring 19 points and grabbing 18 rebounds — with seven of them coming on the offensive glass.
Oh, and all of that came in just 22 minutes of action, as Broome tweaked his ankle in the first half and didn’t play for the final 9:03 of the second half. His backup, Dylan Cardwell, had eight points, five rebounds and three assists.
Meanwhile, Anselem finished with just two points and three rebounds, while Braelen Bridges had two points and two rebounds off the bench for Georgia.
“Here's the deal: Johni tonight, and Dylan, we absolutely dominated the 5-position tonight,” Pearl said. “Dominated. I mean, just look at the numbers. … They had the physical advantage tonight against a smaller, athletic Georgia team.
“That's not going to be the case heading into the next four or five games. But they certainly took advantage of their size and their physicality tonight.”
Auburn can’t expect that kind of performance from its centers every single night. However, it’s no secret that Broome has been Auburn’s most consistent player this season, and Cardwell has the ability to be quite a weapon with his short bursts of efficient play.
The Tigers crushed the Bulldogs on the inside, and that opened things up for the guards and wings to create havoc on both ends of the floor. A lot went into this blowout win, but as White himself said after the game, it all started down low.
PG Tre Donaldson (Zach Bland/Auburn Athletics)
The Tigers made sure UGA’s star guards wouldn’t beat them
In the first meeting, Terry Roberts and Kario Oquendo had their way with Auburn’s defense, combining for 43 points. Roberts was on a really impressive tear, having scored in double figures in each of his last 14 games.
In the rematch, Roberts and Oquendo combined for 17 points on 4 of 13 shooting from the field and 3 of 11 from downtown. Roberts went 7-12 on 2-pointers in the first game but only attempted one all game Wednesday. (It was a miss, too.)
What was behind the huge defensive turnaround?
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