The Stretch 4: Shooting struggles, Westry update, scouting Winthrop and Aden Holloway
Auburn basketball will have a great opportunity to get some much-needed shots to fall Tuesday night — and a major reinforcement could be on its way, too.
PG Tre Donaldson (Elaina Eichorn/Auburn Tigers)
In the words of Bruce Pearl, Auburn is “pleased to be 2-0.” Because, as the first week of college basketball season showed, that wasn’t a guarantee.
On Sunday, Tennessee lost by 12 to Colorado, which had lost to Grambling State two nights earlier. Villanova lost on Friday night to Temple — a team that lost in overtime to Wagner on opening night. That same day, Oregon lost by 13 to UC Irvine. Earlier in the week, TCU beat an Arkansas-Pine Bluff team that’s rated near the bottom of Division I by only one point.
Tennessee, Villanova, Oregon and TCU were all ranked. The loss by Tennessee and the near-disaster from TCU opened the door for Auburn to move from No. 15 up to No. 13 in the new AP poll, even though the Tigers didn’t exactly light the world on fire with their latest win over USF. (Then TCU lost to Northwestern State on Monday night.)
“In college basketball, you have these great upsets,” Pearl said Monday afternoon. “It just doesn't make sense sometimes. … It happens, and it can absolutely happen. These teams are good. They're all good. It's a 40-minute game.”
Pearl spoke with pride about new Division I program Southern Indiana — a place where he got his first head coaching job and where one of his best players currently coaches — giving Missouri all it wanted in a 96-91 shootout on opening night.
Elsewhere in the SEC during the first week, Vanderbilt only scored 48 points in a loss to Southern Miss. South Carolina only beat South Carolina State by two. Also, on Monday night, Florida lost to FAU.
In Pearl’s eyes, Auburn has gotten two wins over “two good teams” in solid mid-majors George Mason and USF. They exposed the Tigers’ early-season deficiencies and gave them plenty to work on before the non-conference matchups step up significantly in difficulty toward the end of the month.
Winthrop, a team that is projected to win the Big South this season, will be the next one of those on Tuesday night.
“You've just got to be excited about playing every night, regarding the matchups,” Pearl said. “That's going to be my message to our guys about Winthrop. Will our players understand it? I hope so.”
For more on what Auburn is focusing on heading into the second week of the season, a couple of important injury updates, a closer look at Winthrop and the Tigers’ latest impact signee, here’s the latest edition of The Stretch 4.