What You Need to Know: Auburn Basketball

Credit: University of Auburn

The Auburn Tigers (5-1) are coming off a 90-83 win over South Carolina Upstate Spartans (3-4).

By Ryan Nelson (@TheRyanNelson_)

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The Tigers Force Turnovers

Auburn ranks 28th in the country in steals per game (9). These Tigers also lead the SEC in total steals (54).

Freshman G Jared Harper leads the team in steals and averages 10.5 points per game. Harper is coming off a 10-point performance in his last outing against the Spartans. He’s tied at the top of the SEC for steals per game (2). 

Two Words: Mustapha Heron

Few guards in the country possess the same range of skills as freshman Mustapaha Heron. Heron leads the Tigers in scoring per game (16.2), but that’s hardly all he’s capable of. Heron ranks sixth in the SEC in scoring.

Heron also leads this team in defensive rebounds (28) and total rebounds (38). His total rebound count is good enough for tenth in the conference.

As mentioned earlier, the Tigers pride themselves on their ability to create turnovers.

Heron isn’t afraid to be a physical force, and makes the most of his opportunies at the charity stripe. He leads Auburn in free throws made (32), and free throws attempted (43).

The Tigers Can Score

The Tigers are averaging 79.8 points per game, versus 73.7 for the Blazers. Auburn has nailed 47 threes on the season, and the Tigers are making nearly a third of their attempts from deep (30.7 percent). Only Vanderbilt (66), Ole Miss (56), Alabama and Kentucky (tied at 50), have more threes in the SEC. 

The Blazers have made just 38 threes on the season, but are shooting a higher percentage from beyond the arc (33.6 percent). 

Heron isn't the lone offensive threat for the Tigers. F Danjel Purifoy, also a freshman, is averaging 14.7 points per game. Purifoy ranks tenth in the SEC in scoring. 

Needs Work

Auburn is tied at 177th for 36.8 rebounds per game. The Tigers will need to make the most of their possessions, and create as many possessions as possible, considering the defensive prowess of the Blazers. 

Quote worthy

Head Coach Bruce Pearl on Mustapha Heron...

"He's got inside-out ability, and the fact that he's money from the free throw line, that's what scorers do. The ball doesn't even hit the rim. We have got to keep building around him."

Pearl’s message to fans on overall performance...

"If you're a little disappointed in how we're playing right now, you should be. And if you're wondering how good this team really is going to be, you should wonder. We've given you enough reason to.”

Guard Mustapha Heron on his play making ability...

"I think that's just how the flow of the game works. Our team is based off of feeding the hot hand. I guess I was the hot hand tonight. We just go based off of that."