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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn returns home for rematch with Georgia

Auburn guard K.D. Johnson (0) walks off the court after a foul is called during a matchup against Texas A&M in Neville Arena on Jan. 25, 2023.
Auburn guard K.D. Johnson (0) walks off the court after a foul is called during a matchup against Texas A&M in Neville Arena on Jan. 25, 2023.

Auburn basketball attempts to snap a two-game losing streak this Wednesday as it returns home to face Georgia.

“Mike White’s done a great job with this group, as I knew he would,” said head coach Bruce Pearl. “He’s got the entire team engaged… there’s just a lot of energy around their program right now, and all it took was a little bit of success and being competitive.”

The Tigers look to even the series against the Bulldogs, losing 76-64 to Georgia earlier this season. The Bulldogs’ guards Terry Roberts and Kario Oquendo torched Auburn that game, scoring 26 and 17 respectively.

No. 25 Auburn (16-5, 6-2 SEC) stumbled in its last two outings, falling to Texas A&M 79-63 and West Virginia 80-77. Despite the loss, the Tigers scored 48 points in the second half against the Mountaineers. Junior K.D. Johnson contributed to the comeback attempt with nine points and three steals in that half. 

“(Johnson)’s been playing much better the last couple of games as you all saw at West Virginia,” Williams said. “He’s getting his mojo back a little bit. That’s the K.D. we need to win.”

Georgia (14-7, 4-4 SEC) broke its three-game losing streak, defeating South Carolina 81-78 this past Saturday in Athens, Ga. The Bulldogs are averaging 70.1 points per game, ranking 10th in the SEC. Despite being towards the bottom of the league in scoring, Georgia boasts one of the best three-point percentages in the SEC – shooting 33.6% from behind the arc. 

“They’re a really good team. They have some really good guards that can drive the basketball,” said senior Jaylin Williams. “If we keep those guys in front we should be good.”

The duo of Roberts and Oquendo lead Georgia in scoring, averaging 15.4 and 13.1 points per game – good for sixth and 17th in the SEC. Roberts also leads the Bulldogs in assists and steals, averaging 4.3 and 1.8 per game.

“(Roberts) and Oquendo are really tough covers. They are really hard to stay in front of. Big guards that get downhill,” Pearl said. “The focus has got to be for us to be able to guard those guards better.”

Georgia gives up 78.5 points per game, ranking last in the SEC and 346th nationally. While the Bulldogs rank in the bottom of the league in most defensive categories, they were able to hold Auburn to 34.8% from the field and swipe 10 steals off the Tigers in the two team’s previous matchup.

Auburn and Georgia competed against four of the same opponents this season: Florida, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and South Carolina. The Tigers went 4-0 against those common opponents while the Bulldogs went 3-1, losing to Florida 82-75.

Auburn and Georgia tip off from Neville Arena at 6 p.m. CST. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.

Donavan Weaver | Sports Writer

Donavan Weaver is a senior at Auburn, majoring in journalism. He is from Brewton, Ala. and started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.

Twitter: @donavanweaver21

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