Auburn was without one of its most valuable veterans Friday night with Jaylin Williams unavailable due to a positive COVID-19 test, but the absence did not matter as Auburn cruised to a 93-66 win over Colgate.
Williams had served as a Swiss army knife for Auburn throughout the season — averaging eight points, six rebounds, two assists and over one steal and block per game, but one of the Tigers' best shooting performances of the season led them to a comfortable win.
Auburn connected on a season-high 10 three pointers while shooting at a 45.5% clip. The Tigers set their season high in three-point makes before even reaching the halfway point of the second half.
The three-point shooting came as a pleasant surprise for Auburn who entered the game ranked No. 342 in the country in three-point shooting percentage.
In comparison, Colgate walked into Neville Arena No. 15 in three-point percentage, yet Auburn had 10 makes while Colgate only had eight. The Tigers also shot a better percentage from deep.
Auburn also shot 55.2% from the field which was its second highest of the season, only behind its 56.4% shooting against Bradley last week and hit its season-high in made field goals with 37.
A large part of that dominant offensive performance came from two of Auburn’s most experienced veterans.
Allen Flanigan, the second-most experienced player on Auburn’s roster with 88 games played, dropped 12 points in the win. Only fifth-year senior Zep Jasper has more games played in college with 123.
“Al (Flanigan) had one of his better games on both ends of the floor — played a lot of minutes and was really productive,” said head coach Bruce Pearl.
Flanigan’s impressive showing is a confidence booster for Pearl as the senior is growing more comfortable with the progression of the season. Flanigan’s five made shots tonight marks his fourth-consecutive game of three makes or more.
Flanigan, who returned halfway through last season after suffering a partially-torn Achilles injury, only made three shots or more in one of Auburn’s final nine games last season.
Flanigan scored seven of his points in the first half, but the hero through the first 20 minutes was K.D. Johnson. The Georgia transfer scored 13 of his 16 points in the first half and hit three first-half triples. Johnson took a hard fall near the end of the half which kept him down on the court throughout part of halftime, but the resilient junior returned in the second half and hit another three to tie his season-high in three pointers made (4) and points (16).
“I finally kind of got myself going from outside the line, and I’m thankful for my teammates for giving me the ball in the right spot,” Johnson said. “So, that was a great feeling — getting back on track.”
Fellow veterans Wendell Green Jr. and Johni Broome also supplied Auburn with solid performances — scoring 13 points each. Broome, who recorded eight blocks against Saint Louis, continued to be a force defensively — setting a career high in steals Friday with four.
While the veterans were Auburn’s main threats offensively, even the young freshman poured in good performances. Yohan Traore and Chance Westry both scored eight points apiece while only turning the ball over twice. Traore also corralled five rebounds and led the team in plus/minus at +22.
“I thought that Yohan and Chance both stepped up and played effectively, played with more confidence, looked like they belonged, made a difference and made us better,” Pearl said.
While the loss dropped Colgate to 5-5, Pearl was adamant that the win would be a quality one in the future, as the Raiders were picked to win the Patriot League in the preseason. Colgate’s Tucker Richardson was also honored in the preseason as the conference’s Patriot League Player and Defensive Player of the Year. Auburn forced Richardson into just nine points on 14 shots.
“They’ve got great experience. They’re the best team in that league,” Pearl said. “That’s a win against the field. That’s an NCAA Tournament team.”
Auburn faces Memphis in its next matchup as it looks to extend its unbeaten start to the season on Saturday, Dec. 10 in Atlanta as a part of Holiday Hoopsgiving. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
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Jacob is a sophomore from Leeds, Alabama. This is his second year with The Auburn Plainsman.