Southeastern Conference (22-11, 10-6)
NIT Seed: #1
Big Wins: 2/7 Tennessee (78-77), 3/7 LSU (69-53), 3/13 vs Florida (61-58)
Bad Losses: 11/19 Mercer (74-78), 1/31 Vanderbilt (75-82), 2/4 at Mississippi (59-78)
Coach: Jeff Lebo
Quantez Robertson, Senior, Guard, 5.6 ppg, 3.0 apg
DeWayne Reed, Junior, Guard, 12.9 ppg, 3.8 apg
Tay Waller, Junior, Guard, 12.5 ppg, 1.6 apg
Rasheem Barrett, Senior, Guard, 9.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg
Korvotney Barber, Senior, Forward, 13.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg
Lucas Hargrove, Junior, Forward, 8.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg
Johnnie Lett, Junior, Forward, 2.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Frankie Sullivan, Freshman, Guard, 7.4 ppg, 1.4 apg
Why They Can Surprise:
Auburn has certainly had some ups and downs this year, but that is nothing new for Coach Jeff Lebo. The Tigers have some quality wins over teams like Tennessee, but there are also some bad losses on the schedule like Mercer. Overall, Coach Lebo has done a good job with the pieces he has to work with and most of that success can be credited to a trio of scorers. Korvotney Barber is usually the lone forward in the starting lineup and he alone has turned Auburn’s rebounding from a liability to a wash. Barber, a 6-7 senior, will also work hard in the paint and has emerged as decent scorer.
The other scorers are DeWayne Reed and Tay Waller. Reed is the experienced option and will use his speed and quickness to get to the basket. Waller has lived up to his potential after transferring in from the junior college level and has knocked down nearly three three-pointers per game. It took Waller a little time to find his shooting touch, but at the end of the year he has been on fire. If that continues into March, Auburn will be a dangerous team.
Why They Can Disappoint:
For a team that usually starts four guards, the free-throw shooting and ball handling is pretty bad. Pretty bad is actually the nice way of describing the Tigers free-throw shooting. The team as a whole shoots 60.2 percent from the charity stripe. Most of the bad free-throw shooting comes from Barber, but others need to step up and make that number a little more acceptable. Quantez Robertson and Reed do a majority of the ball handling and while Robertson is a fine point guard who commits just 1.8 turnovers per contest, the team commits 13.2 per contest.
Who To Watch:
The big three have been pretty consistent scorers, but Auburn needs some of the roleplayers to step up and have big games in March. Rasheem Barrett is not much of an outside shooter, but he will get hot on occasion like when he put up 29 points against Vanderbilt. Freshman Frankie Sullivan has struggled through much of conference play, yet he will give the team a spark off the bench with his outside shooting. The frontcourt will get some help from part-time starter Lucas Hargrove. He is a versatile scorer who can score inside and out, yet it will be more important for Auburn to get help from Hargrove on the glass than in the scoring column.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.3 (100th in nation, 10th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.2 (84, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.0 (155, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.8 (53, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.5 (63, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.8 (214, 11)
Free-Throw Percentage: 60.2 (327, 12)
Rebound Margin: 0.7 (167, 9)
Assists Per Game: 13.9 (106, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.2 (120, 4)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Second Round loss to Northwestern