Observations: Auburn 72, Georgia State 64
Auburn found a way to move to 9-1. But Bruce Pearl has made it clear that his Tigers have to be a lot better on both ends of the floor... quickly.
HC Bruce Pearl (Elaina Eichron/Auburn Athletics)
Whenever Bruce Pearl goes out of his way to say something multiple times at a press conference, pay attention.
Because he’s often trying to send a message to his players — one that everyone else now knows.
What he said during his opening statement Wednesday night was a prime example. After a 72-64 win over a Georgia State team in a Quadrant 4 game that was a lot closer than it should be — the Tigers trailed for almost nine minutes and only led by double-digits for just 33 seconds of game time — Pearl delivered a firm and direct message.
“There's got to be more accountability with our players for their play,” Pearl said. “There just does.”
Then, at the end of his statement, he said it again:
“There's got to be a level of accountability for our players to be able to make plays on both ends of the floor.”
And for good measure, he repeated himself once more in an answer to a question several minutes later:
“What I said was that I think our players need to have a level of accountability. That's the best way to do it. I know they can play better. I know they're better. They've got to show it on both ends of the floor.”
Auburn played well enough, particularly in the second half, to get a win Wednesday night. But this was a Georgia State team that had lost by 20 at Northeastern its last time out and had two of its five wins on the season come against non-Division I teams.
The Tigers were without K.D. Johnson, who Pearl sat out due to “a coach’s decision” that was “something internal.” (Pearl said he’ll be available Sunday against USC.) Johnson’s athleticism was missed on both ends of the floor, and it took Auburn a while to get going without him.
But Auburn got enough from Jaylin Williams, who had a season-high 20 points and added eight rebounds and three blocks. Wendell Green Jr. got to a milestone career No. 1,000 in points with a 17-point game that featured an 11-15 performance from the free-throw line. Johni Broome had his best home game to date as a Tiger, going 6-8 from the field and grabbing seven rebounds to go along with four more blocks.
And Tre Donaldson had a breakout performance off the bench after having fallen out of the rotation for a few games.
Yet the Tigers were out-rebounded by nine by a smaller Georgia State team, with most of the difference coming on the offensive glass. The bench only contributed 18 points, and the free-throw and 3-point shooting numbers were both rough again. On top of it all, Green rolled his ankle late in the game and “probably will be out a couple of days.”
It’s a win, but it was the last time Auburn would face a non-power opponent for the rest of the season. And, starting with a trip to USC and Washington over the few days, these Tigers know they have to turn it around.
“This team, in the last three games — against Colgate, Memphis and now Georgia State — is not playing well enough to beat the teams left on our schedule,” Pearl said. “We have got to improve in order to beat the teams that are left on our schedule. The last three games that we've played, we've not played well enough to be able to continue to win.”
Here are four Observations from Auburn’s 72-64 win over Georgia State, along with the Rotation Charts, Nerd Stats and the Quote of the Night.