Feb 15, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers guard K.T. Harrell and forward Alex Thompson (20) block out Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Fred Thomas (1) during a free throw in first half against at Auburn Arena. The Tigers beat the Bulldogs 92-82. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
Our sister site, Fly War Eagle, was kind enough to answer some questions about Auburn basketball in anticipation of the basketball game this evening. Tip-off is set for 8:00 on the SEC Network. Auburn is 10-7 (2-2), one game ahead of State in the SEC standings.
1. How would you gauge the excitement level of Auburn basketball since Bruce Pearl took over?
"It sounds like an overstatement, but I don’t think it is: excitement for Auburn basketball is at an all-time high. Bruce Pearl is one of the best promoters in college sports, and he has done a terrific job on and off the court raising interest in the program through his television work and recruiting, not to mention some decent performances by the team this season."
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2. What is the strength and weakness of this Auburn team?
"Auburn has a solid group of guards, especially K.T. Harrell and Antoine Mason. Harrell was the SEC’s leading returning scorer from the 2013-14 season and averages 16.9 points per game this year. Mason was the nation’s second leading scorer in 2014-14 at Niagara and transferred to Auburn for his senior season. He averages 14.4 points. K.C. Ross-Miller, Tahj Shamsid-Deen and Malcolm Canada also play a prominent role.In addition to the guards, forward Cinmeon Bowers has been solid this season as well. A junior college transfer in his first year on campus, Bowers is the SEC’s leading rebounder with 11.2 boards per game and averages 13.3 points per night. He’s had ten double-doubles already this season.As far as weaknesses go, the Tigers lack ideal size in the starting lineup. Bowers is listed at just 6-foot-7, but is probably a couple of inches shorter than that, and Jordon Granger is 6-foot-8 but not very thick. 7-foot-2 freshman Trayvon Reed is a future star and has NBA potential, but he joined the team in December and has a lot of learning to do before he can make a major impact."
3. MSU hasn’t won a road game in two full years (at UGA). But some State fans are looking at this game as a potential chance to break that streak. Do you think Auburn is vulnerable at all to the Bulldogs?
"Auburn Arena has been transformed in terms of home court advantage this season and the Tigers are 9-1 at home this year. That said, as much excitement as there is surrounding the Auburn basketball program, expectations are still fairly low overall. There are some talent issues with this squad in terms of size and depth and this team has a tendency to go ice cold from the floor for four, five and six minutes at a time.In other words, yes, Auburn is vulnerable to just about anyone, but the Tigers know they can’t afford to lose at home if they hope to secure a winning record and become post-season eligible."
4. What Auburn players do we need to look out for on Wednesday night?
"As Harrell, Mason and Bowers go, so go the Tigers. If those three players click, this team is hard to beat. If one or two have an off night, Auburn is in trouble.In addition to that trio, keep an eye on Malcolm Canada. Nothing he does is pretty, but he brings a ton of energy to the floor and the fans and students love him. Also, Trayvon Reed is a player to watch for the future."