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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn faces 'blue blood' Indiana in Holiday Hoopsgiving game

Denver Jones drives in from the arc during the second half of the 2023 Legends Classic Championship
Denver Jones drives in from the arc during the second half of the 2023 Legends Classic Championship

With a week off due to finals, Auburn has had time to reflect on its loss to Appalachian State to get the Tigers prepared for their upcoming game against Indiana in the Holiday Hoopsgiving game in Atlanta. 

Last year when Auburn participated in this tournament, it lost to Penny Hardaway’s Memphis Tigers 82-73 in a hard-fought game. 

Auburn will look to shoot the three well in this one, as last game against the Mountaineers it shot 39% from the field and 11% from behind the arc on 3-of-27 shooting.  

“We missed a lot of shots on the inside,” said Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl after last week’s game. “We had a lot of shots that did not go down. You have to be able to make open shots, and we weren’t able to do those things tonight. And that’s what got us beat.” 

The one thing that the Tigers could find consistently that game was throwing it in to Johni Broome who had 21 points and 13 rebounds – a player that has been consistent for them throughout the season so far in terms of scoring and rebounding. 

However, other players will have to provide some help and not allow Broome to do it all by himself. Experienced players like K.D. Johnson and Dylan Cardwell will need to add what they do best – Johnson in getting to the hoop and scoring and Cardwell in providing rebounding and defensive help. 

Indiana, which Pearl called "one of the blue bloods," has an experienced coach in Mike Woodson who has also coached in the NBA. The Hoosiers are led by former-five star and McDonald’s All-American Kel’el Ware, who transferred this season from Oregon and is averaging 17.1 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game. 

The Hoosiers have recently won their past four contests with notable wins against Maryland and Michigan, and their only loss coming to No. 5 UConn. The team has been shooting an outstanding 50% from the field. However, Indiana shoots just 25.8% from the three-point line – which ranks 339th out of 351 NCAA Division I teams.  

The matchup of the game will likely be held in the front court, as both teams best players will be battling it out down low trying to see who can get the best of one another in the paint. 

Malik Reneau, a sophomore averaging around 14 points per game, is another player in the front court for Indiana to keep an eye on. It will be important for the Tigers to contain both Ware and Reneau and keep them off the board to not allow many second chance points. 

Otherwise, the Tigers can come out on top if they feed Broome and allow him to create some open looks for his teammates from the defense converging on him. 

The matchup between Auburn and Indiana tips off at 1 p.m. CST on Saturday, Dec. 9. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

William Halliday | Sports Writer

William Halliday started with The Plainsman in fall 2022. He is a journalism major from Memphis, Tennessee.

Twitter: @wphalliday3

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