Observations: Auburn 82, Ole Miss 73
The Tigers won on the road... in the SEC... with their offense. Things might be starting to trend up for Bruce Pearl's squad.
PG Wendell Green Jr. (Steven Leonard/Auburn Athletics)
OXFORD, Miss. — When Wendell Green Jr.’s 10th and 11th free throws ripped through the net Tuesday night, the scoreboard had a big “82” underneath the word “Auburn.”
And scoring 82 points in and of itself isn’t a groundbreaking development. Auburn had done that four times already this season.
But the context surrounding those points is crucial. There weren’t very many fans in the stands, so you know it wasn’t in Neville Arena. The Tigers weren’t wearing their home whites. Their opponents had SEC patches on their jerseys.
Oh, and the basketball that Auburn couldn’t stop scoring was emblazoned with a giant Nike swoosh. (Real ones know the significance of that.)
Auburn scored 82 points Tuesday night in an SEC road win over Ole Miss. It was the most the Tigers had scored in a conference game away from home since they dropped 109 on South Carolina during the COVID season in 2021. The SEC championship squad with Jabari Smith came close to hitting that mark a few times, but it never got there — even in the overtime title-clincher at Mississippi State.
“I think our offense is starting to come together,” Green said afterwards. “Guys are starting to play better, myself included. We feel very comfortable out there. We're just playing.”
Six days earlier, Auburn had an effective field goal percentage of lower than 40% in a rough 12-point loss at a rebuilding Georgia.
Less than a full week later, the Tigers have a double-digit win over a strong Arkansas team and a crucial first SEC road win to their names. They’ll be one of just four league teams to hit the weekend with three wins already.
“After that loss to Georgia, we came back the next day and had a team meeting, and the first thing we talked about in that team meeting was talking more, being more communicative,” Allen Flanigan said. “So we’ve been stressing that, stressing communication the whole time we’ve been practicing since Georgia — just everybody talking, being vocal, getting guys in the right spots.
“And then learning how to take criticism, constructive criticism from your teammates, not saying anything back and taking the criticism and trying to do what they said.”
The result has been better team basketball. Auburn had four different upperclassmen score at least 12 points at Ole Miss. The Tigers nearly had twice as many assists as turnovers, dominated the glass and was a massive +20 in points in the paint.
“I think there's been more leadership, for sure,” Bruce Pearl said. “And more accountability. Here's the deal, one of the things you try to explain: I have a job to do, but this is not my team. It's their team. If we don't win I'll say it's more my team and not their team, I'll try to take the heat off of them.
“But I've been coaching so long, and I've had so many teams, these guys have got two, three, four years. That's it. And when they take ownership of it and are able to be accountable, be able to call each other on things — they go to their strengths.”
Auburn went to its strengths often Tuesday night, overcoming an early hole to put away Ole Miss in the second half without much drama. The Tigers finally took their show on the road, and they’ve got to do more of that moving forward.
“Road wins are hard to get,” Pearl said. “The guys were locked in.”
Here are five Observations from Auburn’s 82-73 win at Ole Miss, along with the Rotation Charts, Nerd Stats and the Quote of the Night.
SF Allen Flanigan (Steven Leonard/Auburn Athletics)
Allen Flanigan is feeling it right now
Disaster struck Auburn early against Ole Miss. Starting small forward Chris Moore left just 2:24 into the game with a right shoulder injury. He was visibly in pain on the sidelines, yelled out in frustration several times and exited the halftime locker room in a sling with a giant bag of ice taped to him.
“I don't have a report on Chris Moore yet,” Pearl said. “Obviously had his shoulder separated. He'll get an MRI tomorrow, and we'll get his status after the MRI.”
With Moore out and freshman Chance Westry not back in the full rotation just yet, the pressure was on Allen Flanigan to keep it going from his back-to-back double-digit outings last week.
And, man, did Flanigan deliver. He had 15 points on 6-12 shooting from the floor to go along with five rebounds, two assists and — most importantly — zero turnovers in 34 minutes of action. His plus/minus was a team-high +11, too.
“I just went in there and did what I’m supposed to do for this team,” Flanigan said. “That’s one of my jobs on this team, to be aggressive night in and night out, and pick us up wherever we need to be picked up, whether that’s rebounding, playing harder defensively, getting guys shots or taking shots.”
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