It seems every time Bruce Pearl previews an SEC road opponent, Auburn's poor record against that opponent in recent history is mentioned.
No. 17 Auburn (17-2, 4-2 SEC) will face off against Ole Miss (10-9, 1-5 SEC) Tuesday night. Auburn is coming off a 2-0 week with wins over South Carolina and Iowa State. Ole Miss went 1-1 in the last seven days with a loss to Tennessee and a win over Georgia.
Last year, Auburn went 0-2 against the Rebels with a 67-82 loss in Oxford and a 55-60 loss at Auburn Arena.
Pearl has faced off against teams led by Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis ten times in Pearl’s career. And Pearl is aware of how that can be an advantage for the Rebels.
“I have played Kermit 10 times now in my career, and he probably knows what we do as well as anybody, so I think they do a good job of scouting us,” Pearl said.
After the two losses to the Rebels, Auburn is hoping to do something they were unable to do in last year’s historic season.
“I think it matters to our veterans to be able to do things that last year’s team couldn’t do because that is a high bar that was set,” Pearl said.
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
The Rebels host Auburn missing one of their key players from last season. Terence Davis had a double-double with 27 points and 12 rebounds against the Tigers last season in Oxford. Davis now plays for the Toronto Raptors in the NBA.
The standout this season for Ole Miss is senior guard Breein Tyree. Tyree is averaging a team-best 18.9 points a game. He is leading the SEC in points per game.
Pearl says Ole Miss will bring some challenges to Auburn’s usual way of play.
“In other words, when you play fast and you push the break, we’re going to get some things in transition," Pearl said. "But when the break is not there and they’ve got three, four, even five guys back, our point guards have got to say, ‘You know, we don’t have advantage here. We don’t have numbers here. Let’s run something."
Auburn’s team this year does have an advantage over the Tigers’ team that faced the Rebels last year, Pearl thinks: balance. Auburn is relying less on 3-pointers, averaging 8.2 a game. Last year Auburn averaged 11.4 triples a game, the third-most in the country.
“I think, in some ways, given the fact that we are not quite as reliant on the 3-point shot as we were a year ago, we have a little bit more balance offensively,” Pearl said. “I know the numbers don't speak to that because we have been inconsistent shooting it, and we have not been terrifically efficient, and we miss some terrific offensive players from a year ago, but we’ve got a little bit more balance, maybe. Maybe we can build on that.”
Auburn and Ole Miss will tip off at 8 p.m. CST and will air on ESPNU.
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