Auburn Basketball: Three Keys To The Game Against Ole Miss
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Auburn Basketball: Three Keys To The Game Against Ole Miss

The Tigers look to get off to a good start to SEC play with a victory against Ole Miss.

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Auburn Basketball: Three Keys To The Game Against Ole Miss

The number 11 ranked Auburn men's basketball team will travel to Oxford on Wednesday to face the Ole Miss Rebels to kick off conference play.

Auburn started off their season about how they expected to, winning 8 of their first games and held a ranking as high as seven in the AP poll. The Tigers took care of their opponents with relative ease, with the team's only loss came from Coach Mike Krzyzewski and the top-ranked Blue Devils in the Maui Invitational.

Despite this strong start to the year, the winter holiday was not the team's best stretch of play. Bruce Pearl's squad suffered a tough road loss against ACC opponent North Carolina State in a nationally televised broadcast, 78 to 71. The team also struggled to earn wins against the likes of UAB and Murray State, who are decent programs to their credit but are programs Auburn is expected to take care of.

Now heading into SEC play, Auburn will hope to acquire some good momentum for the second half of the season against Ole Miss, who is coming in as confident as ever due to being in the midst of an eight-game winning streak.

Considered by many to be in a transition year this year, first-year head coach Kermit Davis has defied expectations thus far, leading his team to an 11-2 record. The Rebels, led by Junior guard Breein Tyree, boast a .505% team field goal percentage which is the 10th best in the nation and allow only 66.5 points per game. While certainly not the most talented team in the SEC, these Rebels are no pushovers and the Tigers will have to earn this victory in a hectic away game atmosphere in The Pavilion.

Auburn is overall the better team and is favored to take care of business, but the team will have to accomplish certain things throughout the game in order to secure their first SEC win of the year. Here are few of the keys to the games for this Wednesday night battle.

Neutralize the backcourt

The Rebel's offense revolves around the play from their best player, Junior guard Breein Tyree.

Through the first 13 games of the season, the 6-2 guard is averaging 18.4 point per game, which is the second-best clip of any player in the entire conference. Tyree is coming off a career performance against Vanderbilt, where he torched the Commodores for 31 points on an efficient 11 of 16 shooting. A 42.6% three-point shooter, Tyree can knock down shots from deep with ease and his explosiveness allows him to get to the rim in the half court, as well in transition. Auburn will have to do their best to keep him from scoring in order to give themselves the best chance to win, but Tyree is far from only the Rebel guard who can light it up.

Senior guard Terrence Davis is averaging 15.2 points per game and Sophomore Devontae Shuler is averaging 10.2 points per game. Both are 40% percent three-point shooters and have enough tools to create their own shots, which will keep Auburn honest throughout the contest. Needless to say, if Auburn can contain these three from going off offensively, they will give themselves a great chance to win.

Win the battle on the boards

One thing Ole Miss is not great at is rebounding the basketball. Entering the contest against Auburn, the team is averaging only 35.8 rebounds per game, which is the second worst clip in the entire SEC. Auburn, thus far, has been a decent rebounding team, averaging 39.2 rebound per game. If the Tigers can win the rebounding battle, this will tip the scales heavily in their favor. Collecting defensive rebounds will keep the Rebel’s chances to score as low as possible and will give Auburn excellent opportunities to score the ball in transition, while collecting offensive rebounds will create more chances for Auburn to score.

Rebounds, while an overlooked part of the game, are vital in deciding who comes away with the victory. Look to see leading rebounders Chuma Okeke and Austin Wiley fight hard to collect as many boards as they can in the upcoming contest.

Stay out of foul trouble, keep the Rebels off the free throw line, put them in foul trouble

In many games this season, Auburn has put itself in many tough positions due to players getting into foul trouble throughout the game. Though the team does boast some of the best depth in the country, it never helps when any player has to sit for extended periods at a time and can't help the team out. These fouls also lead to their opponents shooting a ton of free throws and Auburn will certainly want to keep the Rebel's off the line as much as they can. As a team, Ole Miss shoots the 17th highest percentage in the entire country, hitting 76.6% of their freebies this year.

Auburn should also look to be aggressive in searching for contact this game. Ole Miss does not have the depth Auburn has to say the least and if the team can get the Rebel's best players to spend more time in a seat rather than the court, the Tigers will hold a huge advantage.

Free throws can change the course of the game in a big way. The Tigers will need to try their best to play hard without fouling to avoid putting themselves in position to be upset on the road.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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