Mustapha Heron (above) is shown in action vs. Georgia in December.
Auburn, Ala.--Looking to win their 18th game of the basketball season while trying to even their season series vs. the Bulldogs, the Auburn Tigers will take on Georgia with an early Wednesday evening start at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens.
Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. CST for Auburn’s final road game of the regular season. The contest will be televised on the SEC Network.
Georgia, which defeated Auburn 96-84 in the league opener for both teams in December, has won four of its previous five games and has a 17-12 overall record, the same as Auburn. The Bulldogs are 8-8 in the league while Auburn is 6-10.
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl has high praise for the job Coach Mark Fox has done with the Bulldogs, who are playing well late in the season despite the lose of their star big man, Yante Maten, who is out with an injury.
“They’ve played a tough schedule and while they haven’t beaten Florida, Kentucky or South Carolina, three of our top teams, they have played them all really close and really could have been in a position to win them all,” Pearl said.
J.J. Frazier, the SEC Player of the Week, is averaging 18.1 points, 4.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds for the Bulldogs. The 5-10 senior guard has averaged 31 points in his previous three games.
J.J. Frazier is shown in action vs. Kentucky.
Frazier scored 27 points while adding five assists vs. Auburn in December. Maten led the Bulldogs that night in scoring with 31 points and was the top rebounder with eight.
Auburn put four players in double figures vs. Georgia led by Mustapha Heron’s 19 points. Danjel Purifoy scored 13 vs. the Bulldogs while Austin Wiley added 11 points and Jared Harper added 10 points with six assists.
The Tigers led by as many as 13 points in the first half and were up 51-43 at intermission, but were outscored 53-33 by UGA in the second half. That snapped a four-game winning streak for the Tigers, who followed the loss to the Bulldogs with two more losses before picking an SEC win at Missouri.
“We played them the first (SEC) game of the regular season, and quite honestly it was one of the best games we have played for about 32 minutes,” Pearl said. “Only Kentucky scored more on them and that took overtime to do it...but obviously, we couldn’t keep them off the foul line.
“Georgia, with nine minutes left to go, and again they trailed the entire game, they had already shot 34 free throws so we fouled them. We fouled Maten, we fouled Frazier, we fouled them too much, and that, obviously, made their offense better so, we’ve got to do a good job of defending without fouling.”
Following the trip to UGA the Tigers will close the regular season with a 2:30 p.m. home contest vs. Missouri. “Senior Night on Saturday--T.J. Dunans, LaRon Smith, Ronnie Johnson and four phenomenal managers, too,” Pearl said. “We certainly will miss our seniors, the impact that thy have had.
“We know that Missouri is still very much engaged. Last week, they about beat Kentucky at home and then they had a real chance to beat Ole Miss at Ole Miss. As we’ve seen throughout the year, the teams at the bottom of the league are capable of beating the teams at the top of the league, and that continues to be the case.”