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Tall task: No. 8 Auburn expects challenge from Texas A&M
Point guard Jared Harper, who dished out 14 assists last game, has accumulated a career-best 134 assists so far this season with 62 coming in SEC play. <i>Photo: Dakota Sumpter/Auburn Athletics</i>
Point guard Jared Harper, who dished out 14 assists last game, has accumulated a career-best 134 assists so far this season with 62 coming in SEC play. Photo: Dakota Sumpter/Auburn Athletics
Feb. 6, 2018


 

 

#8 Auburn vs. Texas A&M

  • Auburn
  • Auburn

(2017-18 RECORD: 21-2, 9-1 SEC) vs. (2017-18 RECORD: 15-8, 4-6 SEC)




Schedule
Wed, Feb 7 8 p.m.   


By Greg Ostendorf
AuburnTigers.com

AUBURN, Ala. -- It's February, which means it's the time of year where every team in college basketball is fighting for something. No. 8 Auburn (21-2, 9-1) has a two-game lead in the SEC and is fighting to win a conference championship. The Tigers are also fighting for a better seed come March.

Texas A&M, Auburn's opponent Wednesday night, is in a six-way tie for eighth in the conference and five games out of first, but the Aggies have won two in a row and are still fighting for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

"They're back to being healthy and they're really deep, and I think they're going to play their way back into the tournament," Auburn coach Brue Pearl said. "They've got a top-30 RPI. They're just a couple of key wins away from being right back in the picture.

"But, we're playing for something, some things that are pretty significant, and so we've got to be able to beat people along the way."

The challenge for Auburn on Wednesday will be Texas A&M's length. The Aggies are the eighth tallest team in college basketball, and they currently lead the SEC in rebounds (42.2) and blocks (6.2) per game. Robert Williams and Tyler Davis are two of the top three rebounders in the conference, and Williams is second only to Auburn's Anfernee McLemore in blocks per game.

But the Auburn players don't want to change what's worked for them to this point.

"I don't really see me doing anything different," junior guard Bryce Brown said. "I'll continue to play my game. We're going to try and get those guys out of the game, get them in foul trouble, so I can see coach (Pearl) trying to get us to be aggressive.

"But I know the coaches wouldn't want me to change my game up just for one game, one team, so I'll continue to do what I do."

Wednesday's game is scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. CT from Auburn Arena. Rod Bramblett and Sonny Smith will have the radio call on 93.9 Tiger FM, online at AuburnTigers.com and on the TuneIn app. The game will also be televised on ESPN2 Tom Hart and Sean Farnham on the call.

Player to watch: Jared Harper

Sophomore Jared Harper has showcased his talents and made his case for being the top point guard in the SEC. He has scored 10-plus points in a team-high 15 consecutive games, including two that have reached the 20-point plateau. Harper has also accumulated a career-best 134 assists so far this season with 62 coming in SEC play.

Inside the series: Texas A&M

Auburn trails 9-4 all-time against Texas A&M. Despite defeating the Aggies in 2015 on their run to the SEC Tournament semifinals, the Tigers have dropped four of the last five meetings. Since 2005, the first team to reach the 70-point plateau emerged victorious.

Scorching the nets

Auburn leads the SEC and is seventh nationally averaging 86.0 points per game, which puts the Tigers on pace to be the SEC's highest-scoring team since Kentucky in 1996 (91.4). Auburn has scored 90 points four times in SEC play, including three times in the last four games.

Prior to last year, the Tigers scored 90 points in a regular season SEC game just seven times over the previous 17 seasons combined.

From beyond the arc

Auburn, who is shooting 41 percent (108 of 264) from downtown in SEC play this season, has hit 10 3-pointers in a game 12 times so far this season.

The Tigers lead the SEC and are tied for No. 22 nationally making 10.2 3s per game, and they're even better in conference play where they lead the league with 10.8 3s per game. They set a new school record for the most 3s made in an SEC game with 17 against Vanderbilt on Saturday. Prior to that, they made 14 in back-to-back games against Missouri and LSU.

Take a timeout

Click here to vote for Bruce Pearl and Children's Harbor in the Coaches Charity Challenge. The coach with the most votes after four rounds wins $100,000 for their charity. Each charity will receive money for every round their representative coach is voted through.

Greg Ostendorf is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:

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