Auburn will play its first home game in over two weeks when they host the Furman Paladins on Thursday night. The Tigers have had more than a week off after winning the Legends Classic tournament in Brooklyn, New York, on Nov. 26.
“We put ourselves in different environments which I think helps us be in a position to be a team that can win away from the best home court advantage in college basketball,” head coach Bruce Pearl said about the takeaways from playing four of the first seven games away from Auburn Arena.
Furman is not a team that should be overlooked as an easy opponent. They are 8-2 in their last 10 road games and last season, the Paladins went on the road and beat then-No. 8 Villanova 76-68 in overtime.
The Paladins are a team that likes to force turnovers. They have 83 steals on the season, tied for 17th-most in the country, leading them to a 7-2 record on the season with the two losses being road losses to Alabama and South Florida.
“They have great hands, they dislodge the ball," Pearl said. "They take charges, so guys like Samir Doughty or J’Von McCormick or Isaac Okoro, especially Isaac, with as big and strong as he is, they’ll be jumping in front of him all night long."
Thursday's matchup will be the last game in Auburn before the university releases students for winter break. With finals coming up, Pearl understands that students are busy working to finish the semester strong but also mentioned the opportunity to see the Tigers play in Auburn Arena one last time before traveling home for the holidays.
“At the same time I hope they take a study break on Thursday night,” Pearl said.
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Thursday will also be the “Toys for Tots” game, where fans attending the game are encouraged to bring a toy that will be donated. Toys for Tots is a program that gives toys to children whose parents are unable to afford Christmas presents. It is run by the Marine Corps Reserves, and the Marines will be on site at Auburn Arena on to collect them.
“I want to set some ridiculous records tomorrow,” Pearl said “Because in this community, every kid should be able to wake up Christmas morning with something special to open. Our fans can make a difference with that tomorrow.”
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