Luke Kornet (above) is a key performer for the Commodores.
Facing a new head coach at Vanderbilt the Auburn Tigers are looking for a new result at Wednesday night’s basketball game at Memorial Gym in Nashville.
The Tigers will take on Coach Bryce Drew’s Commodores at 6 p.m. CST (SEC Network television). Auburn will be trying to rebound from a 96-84 home loss to the Georgia Bulldogs to open SEC play. Vandy is looking to improve to 2-0 in the league after defeating LSU 96-89 in Baton Rouge.
Former Vandy coach Kevin Stallings, who moved from Nashville to become head coach at Pitt, left Drew some proven players. The Commodores, who are 7-6 this season, are expected to start one senior, three juniors and one freshman vs. an Auburn team likely to go with four freshmen and one junior to open the contest.
Stallings also left behind a 12-game winning streak in games vs. the Tigers, who haven’t defeated the Commodores since 2007. Auburn’s last win at Memorial Gym was in 2000.
“This is a team that went to the NCAA Tournament a year ago and they are a fantastic offensive team,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said of the Commodores, who hit 16 of 32 three-pointers in the win at LSU.
Three Vandy players are in double figures for scoring led by 6-5 junior guard Matthew Fisher-Davis, who is averaging 16.4 points and 3.2 rebounds.
Luke Kornet, a 7-1, 250 senior center, is averaging 12.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.
The top rebounder is 6-6, 224 junior forward Jeff Roberson, who is pulling in 7.7 boards per game while scoring 10.5 points per contest.
Riley LaChance, a 6-2 junior guard, is scoring 9.8 points per game while averaging 4.4 assists. The other starter is 6-4 freshman guard Payton Willis, who is averaging 7.2 points and 2.0 rebounds.
Freshman guard Mustapha Heron leads the Tigers in scoring at 16.5 points per contest and is the top rebounder for Auburn at 6.5 per outing.
Mustapha Heron is a six-foot-five, left-handed guard for the Tigers.
Pearl has high praise for the coaching ability of Drew, noting he has coached against teams directed by his brother (Scott) and his father (Homer). “I? am very familiar with the Drew family and the apples don’t fall very far from the tree,” Pearl said. “You talk about an unbelievable foundation of understanding basketball. I see a lot of Homer in both Bryce and Scott.
“It is a great hire for Vanderbilt because they hired another high-character teacher,” Pearl said of Bryce Drew, who has a record of 131-55 in six years as a head coach. The first five were at Valparaiso, where he was a three-time Horizon League Coach of the Year. The Crusaders played in two NCAA Tournaments and received two NIT bids in his five seasons in charge of the program.
The Horizon League is the same conference where Pearl was coaching when Tennessee hired him away from Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Auburn takes a 10-3 record into Wednesday night’s contest after its four-game winning streak was ended in the league opener vs. the Bulldogs. “I?thought we struggled defensively vs. Georgia,” Pearl said. “I thought they really executed.
“When we lost the lead we showed our youth and inexperience,” Pearl added. “We couldn’t get stops and Georgia did an outstanding job of executing their offense.Then on the offensive end we panicked and that is what will sometimes happen with young teams.”