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Friday, Sep 22, 2023 | Latest Print Edition

Tigers back on the court after week-long break

<p>Auburn women's basketball team is trying to shoot a basketball at the Neville Arena on Dec. 3, 2022.&nbsp;</p>

Auburn women's basketball team is trying to shoot a basketball at the Neville Arena on Dec. 3, 2022. 

After being away from the court for over a week for final exams, Auburn is back on the hardwood this week with two home games against Louisiana and North Carolina A&T.

The Tigers are riding a three-game win streak and coming off back-to-back dominant wins — a 22-point win over Little Rock and a 40-point win over UCF. UCF was undefeated prior to the huge loss in Neville Arena.

A major part of Auburn's recent success has been the play of redshirt senior Honesty Scott-Grayson. The Baylor transfer led the team in scoring against Little Rock and UCF — scoring 22 and 20 points in each of those games.

The good news for Auburn is that Scott-Grayson is not the only Tiger who has been playing well lately, as junior Romi Levy has been a steady presence for the Tigers. Levy was inserted into the starting lineup against Little Rock and quickly made that decision from head coach Johnnie Harris look wise. 

Levy posted a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds in the game, and her hard work earned her another start against UCF, though she only scored five points before getting into foul trouble.

Auburn's first matchup of the week is a Sunday game against Louisiana.

The Ragin' Cajuns are 5-4 this season and after a slow start to the season, have won four straight. However, two of those victories came against teams not at the Division 1 level.

Offensively, points have been hard to come by for Louisiana. As a team, the Ragin' Cajun only average 53 points per game and shoot a measly 33.9% from the field. Only Tamera Johnson averages double-digit points for Louisiana. At 10.9 points per game, Johnson leads the team in scoring and grabs the most rebounds for the team with 7.3.

Johnson had her best game of the season two weeks ago in Louisiana's 16-point win over Abilene Christian — filling the stat sheet with 17 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and three assists.

Lanay Wheaton is another dangerous option Auburn must prepare for. While Wheaton has not had the most efficient start to the 2022-23 season, shooting just 23% from the field and 11% from deep, she is still a threat. Wheaton was selected to the preseason All-Sun Belt Third Team in October and has still been a force defensively — recording 1.9 steals per game.

Louisiana was picked to finish third in the Sun Belt in the conference's preseason coaches poll.

Auburn faces North Carolina A&T a few days later, also at home. The Bulldogs are 5-3, but like Louisiana, have a few wins against teams not in Division 1. Against Division 1 opponents, NC A&T is just 2-3 and has a 20-point loss against Duke to its name.

Statistically, NC A&T has been much better than Louisiana on offense — averaging 20 more points per game than the Ragin' Cajun. The Bulldogs also have two double-digit scorers with Jazmin Harris (14.7) and Maleia Bracone (13.7). Harris, the team's starting center, also grabs 8.1 rebounds and blocks two shots per game.

The dominant rebounding from Harris is not just one of her strengths, but it is also the strength of the entire team. Harris' eight rebounds per game does not even lead the team as D'Mya Tucker corrals 8.6 rebounds per game. Between those two dominant rebounders and the rest of the team, the Bulldogs rank inside the top 40 nationally in rebounds per game.

However, the Tigers have been equally as impressive grabbing boards — sitting inside the top 20 in offensive rebounds per game.

With a win against Louisiana, Auburn would improve to 7-2 — marking the Tigers' best start since 2018-19 (12-1) and giving Harris a great start to her second season on the Plains.

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Jacob Waters | Sports Reporter

Jacob is a sophomore from Leeds, Alabama. This is his second year with The Auburn Plainsman. 

Twitter: @JacobWaters_

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