Auburn returns to The Jungle after a tough two game road stretch, ending with the termination of its 19-game winning streak in a loss at Arkansas on Tuesday.
The Tigers will meet Texas A&M on Saturday, in a game that has ESPN’s College Gameday coming for the first time since their game against Kentucky in 2020.
Auburn is coming off just its second loss of the season, with the first being to UConn, and both losses coming in overtime. On the other side of it, Texas A&M is riding a seven game losing streak in SEC play coming into the game, with its most recent loss coming on Tuesday at home against LSU.
Despite out-scoring LSU 52-40 in the second half, it was not enough for the Aggies to win the game. Texas A&M trailed by 20 at the half, and it only had one lead the entire game. That lead came early in the first half. It gave up a 23-5 run to LSU in the final 10 minutes of the first half, which was ultimately enough to keep the Aggies from winning the game.
While scoring does not seem to be a problem for the Aggies, it could still be a difficult task to catch up to Auburn, as the Tigers score 6.7 more points per game on average. Auburn should be able to force some pressure on many of the shots that the Aggies take. Texas A&M will have to get past Walker Kessler, who leads the nation in blocks with 104. For a team that does not have a defined big man to help get inside shots over him, this could be a problem for Texas A&M.
Auburn is coming off of its own struggles though. After coming off of a performance where they shot 47.1% from the free-throw line, the Tigers will have to make improvements in order to score from the line when they go to it. If they can convert, then it will give them a huge advantage over a Texas A&M team that shoots 65.6% on free throws, which places it 13th in the SEC.
The Tigers also had trouble finding their stride from beyond the arc, shooting 25% throughout the game. This is an aspect that Auburn has normally had firm control of, as it ranks third in the conference in 3-pointers made at 198. Simply put, if Auburn finds itself succeeding from the 3-point line, they can give themselves a good shot at victory. They will have to stop Aggie guard Andre Gordon though, as he ranks second in the SEC in 3-point percentage at 43.6%. If he gets hot, expect that Texas A&M will have a good shot at what could be a big win.
Outside of all of this, with College GameDay coming, the national stage will be set for both of these teams. The crowd is expected to be electrifying, and it seems as if The Jungle will be out in full force to try and keep Auburn undefeated at home, and away from another major upset.
The game will begin at 11 a.m. CST and will be broadcast on ESPN.
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Tyler Raley is a junior from Birmingham, Alabama, majoring in journalism.