Bama plays a depleted team of a different sort as the Tigers have been decimated by injuries. Auburn is down to eight players who have played any significant minutes with the starters labeled as perimeter players.
In a win in their last game over Presbyterian (78-65), the Tiger starters were Frank Tolbert (6-4, senior guard), DeWayne Reed (6-1, sophomore guard), Rasheem Barrett (6-5, junior guard), Quantez Robertson (6-3, junior guard), and Quan Prowell (6-8, senior forward).
Offensively, Auburn is averaging 70.4 points per game while being lead in scoring by Barrett (13.8), Prowell (12.5) and Tolbert (11.8). The Tigers shooting percentages are 48.3 percent from the floor, 34.4 (117-340) percent from the three point line, and 60.8 percent from the foul line.
Auburn distributes the ball at the rate of 15.5 assists and 15.1 turnovers per game. The Tigers live and die by the three point shot as they will spread the floor with nearly all five players positioning themselves on the perimeter. Auburn will use their athleticism to drive the lane for lay-ups or kick-outs for three point shots.
On defense, the Tigers allow 67.5 points per game by the opposition while holding them to 44.3 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from the arc. Auburn uses its pressure defense to average nine steals and 2.8 blocks per game while forcing their opponents into 15.4 turnovers per game.
Even with the lack of size, the Tigers enjoy a 2.1 rebounding margin per game as they average 34.3 to the opposition's 32.2 rebounds per game. Look for Auburn to zone against the Tide's size advantage.
For Bama, this is a MUST needed win over their in-state rival in front of an expected sell out crowd which are looking for a turnaround. The Tide will use their man-to-man defense to keep up with the shooters as all eight available players have made multiple three pointers for the Tigers.
On defending the lane drives, Bama should not allow any uncontested lay-ups by sending them to the line as the Tigers shoot poorly from the charity stripe.
On offense, the Tide should make this a 94 foot game by running with every opportunity as Bama has the deeper bench. But when the fast break doesn't present itself, they should take the ball inside to Hendrix and company.
Being physical and running that depleted Tiger team should work to the Tide's favor. The Tide needs to control the boards physically as to allow only one shot per trip for Auburn. The Tigers are not in a position to foul at every chance, but Bama needs to step up and knock them down to make those fouls costly in two different ways.
Look for the Tide to get its first conference win in a close one.
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