Austin Wiley (above) scored 25 times in his previous road trip to the Lone Star state when the Tigers defeated TCU.
Auburn, Ala.--Looking to end a two-game slide and build a resume for a postseason invitation, the Auburn basketball Tigers hit the road for a Saturday game vs. the Texas A&M?Aggies.
Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. CST at Reed Arena in a game that will be televised on ESPNU. Both teams are 5-8 in SEC play. Overall, Auburn is 16-10 while the Aggies are 13-12.
Coach Bruce Pearl said a key to success will be doing a good job of rebounding against A&M’s tall front line. The Aggies start 6-10 junior Tonny Trocha-Morelos, 6-10 sophomore Tyler Davis and 6-9 freshman Robert Williams.
The Aggies are averaging 5.6 more rebounds per game than opponents while Auburn is minus 3.1 per contest.
“They say the game is about matchups,” Pearl said. “You have got a team that struggles to rebound the basketball in Auburn because we play fast and because we play an undersized four, against a team that is second in the conference in blocked shots and leads in offensive rebounding, particularly the offensive rebounding percentage.
“They don’t shoot a ton, and they don’t play real fast, but the shots they do take, the ones they miss they go rebound at the highest percentage in the league,” Pearl said.
“Tyler Davis is Austin Wiley a year later--just a great player and going to be a great pro, great hands and a real focal point for your defense as far as guarding him in the post and game planning.
“Robert Williams is a young freshman that people in the draft say could go between 14 and 20, and he’s probably their third-best player with Admon Gilder being a really good scorer.”
Coach Billy Kennedy’s come into Saturday’s game after losing 72-67 at Vanderbilt despite 25 points from Davis and a double-double by Williams who contributed 13 points and 13 rebounds.
“Their weakness is their depth,” Pearl said. “They are only six or seven deep, but they’ve played that way all year long. Texas A&M was picked third, fourth, fifth in our league by everybody. They lost a lot from a year ago from a team that got to the Sweet 16, but, their program is obviously in great shape under Billy Kennedy, and it will be a really challenging game for us and an interesting matchup.”?
Davis is averaging 14.2 points and 7.2 rebounds. Williams is averaging 11.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Trocha-Morellos is averaging 8.2 points and 5.0 rebounds.
Admon Gilder has been playing well for the Aggies in recent games.
Admon Gilder, a 6-4 sophomore guard, is averaging 13.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists. The other starter, 6-1 senior guard J.C. Hampton, is averaging 6.4 points and 1.9 assists.
Auburn is 2-2 in games at College Station, but the Aggies lead the series 8-4, including an 81-63 victory last season at Auburn Arena.
Pearl is expected to again go with a starting lineup that features four freshmen. Mustapha Heron continues to lead the Tigers in scoring (15.0 points per game) as well as rebounding (5.7 per contest).
Another freshman, Jared Harper, is the No. 2 scorer at 12.2 points per game. Danjel Purifoy is averaging 11.4 points and 4.8 rebounds.
Freshman center Austin Wiley’s numbers continue to rise. He is averaging 9.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.2 blockers per contest.