By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- The benches are on the end line and not side court. Vanderbilt's Memorial Gymnasium has always been a little wacky for Auburn, which hasn't won there since 2000, hasn't beaten the Commodores anywhere in the last 12 games, but comes to Wednesday's 6 p.m. game with a clean slate.
The Tigers, who have started four freshmen the last three games, may do it again in Nashville in the SEC Network game.
Freshmen Mustapha Heron, Danjel Purifoy, Jared Harper and Austin Wiley haven't played in Memorial Gymnasium, so history will not be a burden. Instead, new-look Auburn and home-standing Vanderbilt promise to go fast and shoot plenty of 3-pointers.
Vandy and Auburn are 1-2 in the Southeastern Conference in 3-pointers made, just like last season.
Vandy showed off its long-range shooting when it made 16 of them in beating LSU 96-89 in the SEC opener. Auburn hit 21 of them, the highest number nationally in a game involving two Division I teams this season, when it beat Coastal Carolina 117-72 in December. Auburn didn't fare as well in its SEC opener last week, falling to Georgia 96-84 after seeing a 12-point lead evaporate in the second half.
Auburn is 10-3 overall and needs one victory to match last season's win total. Vanderbilt is 7-6.
Pearl said drawing Georgia and Vanderbilt to open SEC play is a "challenging start."
"I thought defensively, we struggled against Georgia. When we lost the lead, we showed our youth and inexperience. We couldn't get stops and Georgia did an outstanding job executing their offense. On the offensive end, we panicked and that sometimes will happen with young teams."
Now, it's a Vanderbilt, who Pearl called a "fantastic offensive team."
"When you have a player like Luke Kornet, who is the most unique center in the country, a true stretch-five, it presents you with all kinds of problems."
Pearl knows Kornet is a problem. Kornet had a triple-double against Auburn last season when he had 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks.
Heron can make his mark in Nashville. He's scored in double figures in his first 13 college games, and can tie the school record at 14, a record held by Wesley Person, who did it in the 1990-91 season.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine