No. 11 Auburn men’s basketball will travel to Oxford on Tuesday night, looking to improve to 20-2 on what has been an extraordinary season for the Tigers. In the school’s best season since the days of Charles Barkley, Auburn will look for a second 2018 victory over Ole Miss, after snapping the Rebel’s 10-game win streak in the series on Jan. 9, 2018. After its defeat at Auburn earlier in the month, Ole Miss will hope to keep its hot streak at home and capture its 11th victory out of the two teams’ past 12 meetings.
Aside from a road loss early in the season to Temple when the pieces were still coming together, Auburn has only lost one other game on the road. Earlier this season, they were dropped by Alabama by a mere five-point margin. Whether it’s on the road or at home, this team is undeniably hot. On the contrary, Ole Miss can’t win a game outside of Oxford. Luckily for the Rebels, this game will be played at the Pavilion amid a seven-game win streak at home.
This matchup is an intriguing one, to say the least. Auburn shoots teams off of the floor; it’s the Tigers’ bread and butter. On the other side of the court, Ole Miss also relies on a high volume of scoring. Hoping to recover tournament hopes with a strong final 10-game push, the Rebels will first have to contain the Tigers’ chaotic offensive onslaught.
With the scoring barrage pretty much guaranteed to hit Ole Miss early and hard, the only feasible way for the Rebels to come out on top is to match the Tigers when they have the ball. Having put up impressive scoreline numbers as of late, big-time scorers like Deandre Burnett and Terence Davis will have to remain dialed in and distribute the ball to auxiliary scorers like Devontae Shuler and Markel Crawford.
In Ole Miss’ most recent matchup at Texas, Dominik Olejniczak emerged as an offensive threat while being defended by the Longhorns’ star big man Mohamed Bamba. Olejniczak posted 16 points on the night, and another offensive contribution of that caliber will be critical against an Auburn team whose specialty lies in guard play.
The biggest threat for Rebel big men will be the Tigers’ junior forward Desean Murray, who tallies 11.4 points and 7 rebounds per game. If Olejniczak can exploit his defensive efforts and dial it up once more on offense, the game will be entirely left to guard play – exactly what Ole Miss wants.
Among the Auburn guards, the focus will have to shift to Bryce Brown and his more than 16.3 points per game. If Breein Tyree and Devontae Shuler can effectively guard Brown, as they did Alabama’s Collin Sexton a week ago, this game will be a lot closer than their previous 85-70 loss on the Plains.
Though Auburn continues to rise in the national standings, the matchups on both rosters will create a more interesting storyline than meets the eye. On paper, the game leans in Auburn’s favor. However, Tuesday night’s bout could cause the streaking Tigers some trouble, especially with Ole Miss playing at home.
The game will tip at 8 p.m. at The Pavilion and will be aired on SEC Network.