(2016-17 RECORD: 18-14, 7-11 SEC) vs. (2016-17 RECORD: 17-17, 12-4 MEAC)
|Fri, Nov 10||7 p.m.|
AUBURN, Ala. – The 2017-18 season is set to tip off for the Auburn men’s basketball team when it welcomes Norfolk State for a non-conference battle Friday, Nov. 10. The contest gets underway at 7 p.m. CT at Auburn Arena.
Rod Bramblett and Sonny Smith will have the radio call on 93.9 Tiger FM, online at www.AuburnTigers.com and on the TuneIn app. Bramblett and Smith’s call will also serve as an audio overlay for the SEC Network+ feed.
The Tigers are 80-31 (.721) all-time in season openers, including 58-9 at home, 13-16 on the road, 4-3 in neutral-site games and 5-3 in games played in unknown locations. Auburn has won 36 of its last 43 season openers, including an 83-66 victory over North Florida in Auburn Arena last season.
Bruce Pearl is 21-1 (.955) in season openers, including 3-0 at Auburn. The Tigers defeated North Florida 83-66 last season, UAB 75-74 in 2015 and Milwaukee 83-73 in 2014 in Pearl’s debut as Auburn’s head coach. Overall, Pearl has won 11 consecutive season openers.
Player to Watch: Bryce Brown
Entering his third season on The Plains, Bryce Brown shined bright in the first game of the season last year. In an 83-66 victory, the junior poured in a team-high 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting. The sharpshooter also was 5-of-10 from downtown to lead all scorers. Brown added three steals, two rebounds and one assist in 25 minutes of action for the Tigers.
Pre-Game Quotes: Coach Pearl
“I think some years as you start the season you have a better idea of what you have than others. If a coach tells you that somehow he doesn’t have butterflies before the opening tip, he is either not being accurate or he needs to find another line of work because while I am excited about the tip, I am also anxious about it.”
“[Norfolk State] is an older team with a number of redshirt seniors and a number of seniors. They are a tough team. It’s interesting, I don’t know if you guys have ever heard of the 757. Do you know what that means? Whether its basketball or football, the Virginia Beach area is very well known for putting out great athletes and tough kids. They take great pride in the 757. Well, that is part of what this team is all about. They are part of the MEAC. They were picked to finish second in their league. They are going to be really athletic. They have good size. They are multiple defensively. They run a lot of different things and we have to predict based on looking at them last year what they might run this year. We really don’t know a lot about them. They are a dangerous opponent and an athletic opponent.”
Pre-Game Quotes: Mustapha Heron
“The biggest problem [with the exhibition] was the defense and rebounding, same thing as last year. Coach really drilled to us this week that defense and rebounding is going to help us win. We know we can score the ball with anybody in the country. So it’s going to be the defense and rebounding.”
An Auburn Win Would…
An Auburn win would give the Tigers their seventh-consecutive victory to open the season, including all four under head coach Bruce Pearl. Auburn would also pick up its 81st win overall in season openers and 59th on The Plains.
On This Date
On Nov. 10, 2006, the Tigers defeated Troy to open the 2006-07 season at Auburn’s Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, 71-68. Kovotney Barber registered a double-double with 13 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Frank Tolbert and Quantez Robertson poured in 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Auburn has played on Nov. 10 just one time in program history (2006). In fact, Friday’s contest marks the fourth-earliest game in program history. The Tigers have played once on Nov. 8 (2013 vs. Nicholls) and twice on Nov. 9 (2007 vs. Tulane; 2012 vs. IPFW).
Inside the Series: Norfolk State
The two teams have met only once in series history with Auburn taking a 92-56 result over Norfolk State in the Capital City Classic, Dec. 29, 1995. In that game, six players scored in double figures, led by Wes Flanigan with 18 points. The Tigers shot 11-of-23 from downtown and maintained a 37-26 advantage on the glass to en route to a 26-point victory.
Scouting the Spartans
Picked to finish second in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Norfolk State was a game away from reaching the NCAA Tournament last season. The Spartans fell to North Carolina Central by a score of 67-59. Guard Zaynah Robinson headlines the returners with a team-high 13.5 points and 4.5 assists per game last year. Forward Alex Long also brings back 7.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, while also contributing 41 blocks and 25 steals during the 2016-17 campaign that saw Norfolk State finish at 17-17.