Danjel Purifoy (above) leads Auburn in scoring at 16.5 points per contest.
Coach Bruce Pearl’s Auburn basketball team has a chance to enhance its potential to earn a postseason tournament invitation as the Tigers play a pair of games away from home this week vs. high-profile opponents.
The first on the schedule is set for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. CST vs. 2016 Final Four team Oklahoma. The game, which will be played at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., is part of the Hall of Fame’s Birthday of Basketball celebration. TV coverage is on the CBS Sports Network.
Two days later the Tigers will take on the UConn Huskies, a traditional hoops power. That game will be played at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.
“It’s a litmus test again,” Pearl said of the road trip for his 8-2 Tigers. “Are we going to be a postseason tournament team or not?
“I know it’s early in our development, but this is going to be a real challenge and a real test and a real opportunity,” Auburn’s third-year head coach says.
“I think the second thing is going to be how do we fare for the league (Southeastern Conference) in the sense that our league continues to need some quality wins to help us when it comes to postseason, and so we carry that banner and that torch as well.”
The Sooners will bring a 6-4 record into Wednesday’s contest. Pearl said a big reason for that is that Coach Lon Kruger has led his team vs. a very challenging schedule.
“We are probably some place in the middle or the lower half as far as the quality of teams that they have played and so our guys have got to understand at the same time Oklahoma will clearly be in the upper half of the 10 teams that we’ve played,” Pearl said.
“They are very athletic, they are really deep, they play really hard, they are great in transition and they have got some really terrific players,” Pearl added. “Jordan Woodard is a guy that you have got to game plan for and they have got really good personnel.”
Woodard, a 6-0, 187 senior guard, is averaging 17.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
“This will be the biggest and the most athletic team that we have played so far and one of the most athletic teams and deepest teams that we will play this year,” Pearl said of the Sooners, who lost their last game, 99-94 in overtime, vs. Memphis.