In Auburn's first six SEC games, freshman guard Davion Mitchell appeared to have turned a corner and become a key player off the bench for Bruce Pearl.
Mitchell totaled 22 points in the six games on 9-of-18 shooting along with 18 assists and seven turnovers, proving crucial in his backup role of sophomore guard Jared Harper.
The last five conference games have been a different story for Mitchell, as the grind of SEC play has taken its toll on the freshman.
The former four-star recruit has scored just four points in the five games, knocking down just two of his seven field goal attempts. Mitchell has turned the ball over nine times in the five games compared to just four assists.
Despite his recent struggles, Pearl remains as confident as ever in his backup point guard.
"I think Davion is pressing a little bit being the freshman in the SEC," Pearl said. "Nobody works harder. Nobody is in the gym more. I will give you an example, nobody gets more shots than Davion, and that is not a knock on anybody else because I have to constantly kick him out of the gym or tell people to send him home because after he goes to class and he studies, he is in here at night every night.
"But, he doesn't look like he is hunting his shot. That would mean, 'Why are you working so hard at something that you're not willing to necessarily go to in a game?' It's because he just wants to win and he wants to get everybody else involved. I think he is probably pressing a little bit."
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
Mitchell has appeared timid at times during the five-game stretch, and Pearl said he and his staff are working with Mitchell to shake that trend.
"He is a tough kid, he's got great character and believe it or not, we've got to get him some more confidence that it's okay to fail, it's okay to make mistakes, but it's not okay to be timid at times," Pearl said.
With leading scorer Bryce Brown's status for Saturday's game at Georgia in question, there is a chance Mitchell could see an increased role filling in for Brown. If that is the case, Pearl expects to see Mitchell back to his early-season ways and shining in his role off the bench.
"I'm very confident in Davion's ability, his work ethic, and I know that even though he's had a few games where he hasn't played as well, he'll be back," Pearl said.
Mitchell and the No. 8 Tigers will travel to Athens on Saturday to take on Georgia. Tip-off is set for 2:30 p.m. CST on the SEC Network.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman