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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn looks to bounce back in SEC home opener

<p>Romi Levy (#11) attempting to block pass by A&amp;T player at Neville Arena on December 15th 2022</p>

Romi Levy (#11) attempting to block pass by A&T player at Neville Arena on December 15th 2022

After a tough loss at Ole Miss in the SEC opener, Auburn looks to bounce back at home and get its first SEC win of the season. The Tigers will not have time to sulk over the loss to the Rebels as they will have to put it behind them to face another all-around strong team against Missouri.

While Auburn is looking for a major bounce back, Missouri looks to build on its gritty SEC opener win against Kentucky. Missouri comes into Auburn ranked 23rd in the nation for field goal percentage (46.6%) and 38th in the country for scoring defense (55.9).

In order for Auburn to win its first SEC home opener since the 2017-18 season, the Tigers will need to get back to playing their style of game. Auburn was never able to get going offensively against the Rebels, shooting 25% from the field, 0-for-10 from three and only scoring 47 points, all of which were season lows. 

Part of Auburn’s shooting woes against Ole Miss came from the absence of Honesty Scott-Grayson, who is third on the team in field goal percentage (47.9%) and second on the team in three point percentage (49%).

Even after a struggling offensive performance, Auburn comes into Sunday’s game against Missouri ranked 28th in the nation and second in the SEC in three point percentage (36.4%), a strength it needs to return to.

On top of its struggles on offense, Auburn also struggled on the other side of the court, as the team performed well below what its fans have come to expect from the defense this season. 

Though Auburn is fifth in the country in blocks per game (6.2) and 26th in steals per game (11.2), the Tigers struggled to get their defensive game going against Ole Miss, only managing to tally two blocks and six steals.

Aicha Coulibaly, who leads Auburn in steals per game (2.1) and blocks per game (1.1), did not manage to get a block or steal in her return from injury. Scott-Grayson’s absence also hindered Auburn’s defensive effort as the Tigers were missing her 1.8 steals per game, second on the team. 

Though Auburn struggled all-around against Ole Miss, the Tigers still come in having won seven of their last eight games. Similarly, Missouri comes in having won seven of its last eight games as well.

In order to win, Auburn will have to get back to shooting efficiently and playing determined defense. Missouri needs to carry its momentum over from the last eight games and hold Auburn in check from long-range. 

For Missouri, a win would be its third straight against Auburn and would improve its record to 13-2. A win for Auburn would break a four game losing streak against SEC teams and would bring its record to 11-3. 

Opening the athletics calendar for the year on Jan.1, tipoff in Neville Arena is set for 3 p.m. CST. The game will be broadcasted on SEC Network. 

Chris Mendoza | Sports Writer

Chris Mendoza is a senior from Huntsville, Ala. majoring in journalism and minoring in sports coaching. He started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.

Twitter: @chris_mendoza20

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