As we await the final week of the SEC regular season, many fans are greatly frustrated with the continuous struggles of the Auburn basketball team. Losing 5 out of their last 7, the Tigers just can’t figure it out, especially on the offensive end.
I’m not going to get into the horrendous stats from Auburn’s obliteration at Kentucky because that would be no fun to read. Instead, let’s briefly talk about what is causing the Tigers all of these problems.
First off, the ability to score is a big, big, big storyline this season. However, there have been moments where Auburn has looked unstoppable, like the blowout against Missouri. But more often times the Tigers cannot consistently put the ball in the basket, especially from behind the arc.
The best way to describe this is streaky, and the best reflection of the team’s streakiness is point guard Wendell Green. He can go a couple straight outings with 20+ points and then randomly go cold for a few games, not even putting up 10. Along with Zep Jasper, KD Johnson, and Tre Donaldson, threes have come tough to get. Auburn is only shooting 30% from deep this year, while SEC frontrunners Alabama and Texas A&M are shooting 34% and 33%.
In order to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament, it is crucial to have consistent 3 point shooting and guards who are a real threat from behind the arc. Just look at the 2019 season when Auburn had the magical Final Four run: the team shot an impressive 3-point percentage of 37%, with guys like Bryce Brown, Jared Harper, ad Chuma Okeke. They weren’t the most impressive team throughout the regular season but caught fire late, that spark coming from elite 3-point shooting. It’s needless to say that Bruce Pearl needs to bring in some sharp shooters next season, whether it’s the incoming 2023 class (like Aden Holloway) or from the transfer portal, who are consistent scorers night in and night out.
Now that we are towards the end of the season, it has become evident that the team doesn’t have “that guy” that the Auburn can rely on. In recent years, it’s been standout freshmen like Isaac Okoro, Jabari Smith, and somewhat Sharife Cooper that the Tigers went to in big moments or just to light a spark when the team wasn’t playing well. That isn’t the case this year. I guess if I had to pick one, it would probably be Jaylin Wiliiams because of his ability to come through in clutch moments, but there isn’t really much there besides that. Nobody has stepped up and taken the clear leadership role that the team can feed off of, which is one of Auburn’s many flaws this season.
There is probably a lot more I could dive deeper into, but these are the most obvious reasons why Auburn basketball isn’t meeting current expectations of the Auburn faithful. Along with the reasons mentioned, the lack of team chemistry, trouble rebounding the basketball, and the struggle that is presented with playing on the road are a few of the reasons why most fans are unsatisfied, and for good reason.
The Tigers most likely need to win one of the remaining two games, either at Alabama or at home against Tennessee, to completely secure a ticket to the Big Dance.