November 28, 2023

The exhibitions and scrimmages are over. On Tuesday, head coach Bruce Pearl and Auburn basketball will start its 2023-24 season towards Baylor.

It’s a staff Pearl believes is deep. It’s a staff that may rating in bunches. It’s a staff with aspirations and potential to make one other run in March.

It’s additionally a staff with some key questions. We addressed just a few of them right here:

Can Auburn lastly, FINALLY, make some 3s?

Final 12 months, Auburn was 309th within the nation in 3-point subject objective share. It was additionally 218th in 3-pointers tried per recreation. Auburn hasn’t had a staff taking pictures share from past the arc higher than 226th within the nation because it went to the Remaining 4 in 2019.

Taking pictures has been a large weak point the previous few years, and to win with a staff that may not be good defensively (extra on that beneath), Auburn might want to make some 3s.

That’s why Denver Jones is right here. The FIU switch scored greater than 20 factors per recreation final 12 months and has a really pure leap shot. He was introduced in to be Auburn’s 3-point shooter. After Auburn’s exhibition towards Auburn-Montgomery on Nov. 1, he stated Pearl is encouraging him to shoot typically.

Although the exhibition wasn’t the most effective begin for Auburn. Jones shot 4-8 on 3-pointers. The remainder of the staff shot 1-17. Auburn had many open pictures, so a number of the taking pictures struggles within the exhibition have been only a little bit of unhealthy luck. These open appears will transfer again towards the imply sooner or later. And Auburn nonetheless scored greater than 100 factors, although after all it vastly overmatched AUM.

“Tonight we didn’t shoot it very effectively,” Pearl stated Wednesday. “In all probability the worst we’ve shot it shortly. I’m not fearful about it; we’re going to shoot it high quality. Many of the pictures we obtained have been good pictures and balls that I believe are going to go in. I’m not fearful about our taking pictures from the free-throw line or the 3-point line.”

Jones simply wants some assist. If somebody will help him, Auburn’s offense has the flexibility to be elite.

What’s the naked minimal for Auburn’s protection?

Auburn’s offense might be elite, sure. However the protection has raised issues.

“Our protection is basically challenged,” Pearl stated after the exhibition. “So I’m disillusioned about it, and we’re going to must proceed to work on some issues — in any other case we’re not going to get stops.”

Auburn had allowed solely 33% taking pictures to AUM, however that didn’t inform the entire story. Auburn’s protection was totally inconsistent however did clamp down, particularly late within the first half.

It is a roster stuffed with athletes. Auburn can play a fast-paced recreation. It has the velocity and the size to defend. Auburn simply hasn’t put it collectively through the preseason and it’s been in all probability the largest concern Pearl has raised throughout press conferences this fall.

The protection goes to take a while to come back collectively. Dropping Zep Jasper from final 12 months’s staff after he graduated definitely hurts Auburn’s protection. Jones and senior Okay.D. Johnson have been thought to be two of the staff’s higher defenders.

Auburn doesn’t seem, no less than at this level, that it’s going to ever have a stage on the defensive finish it will likely be in a position to totally depend on. However what stage of protection goes to be the minimal to get issues accomplished? The protection will, hopefully, get higher because the 12 months goes on and if Auburn can determine issues on the market earlier than March, this might be a staff able to making a run.

Auburn ought to have the ability to rating. Is that going to be sufficient?

What does Auburn’s event resume appear like by the tip of non-conference play?

Auburn has one of the difficult non-conference slates within the nation. Not each staff identify is precisely a giant identify, however there are a slew of groups that ought to qualify for the upcoming NCAA Event.

Auburn will play Baylor, USC, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, both Oklahoma State or St. Bonaventure, and Indiana all earlier than Christmas. There’s a journey to Boone, North Carolina, to play a strong Appalachian State staff and matchups towards two superb mid-major applications in UNC Asheville and Chattanooga. March Insanity staff after March Insanity staff.

This will probably be a vital interval of Auburn to firstly, get examined towards good groups earlier than getting into the deepest SEC stretch in years, and secondly construct its personal NCAA Event resume.

Profiting from a tough non-conference schedule typically finally ends up being a significant speaking level on Choice Sunday. What is likely to be equally vital is avoiding a foul loss. That might be both to considered one of Auburn’s Quad III or IV opponents, or a blowout loss to an influence convention staff.

Auburn gained’t break it’s season within the non-conference slate, nevertheless it might make it. There’s momentum to be gained right here, and if Auburn can enter SEC play with confidence, with a powerful document and bettering play then it will likely be arrange will for the convention gauntlet.

With how tough the SEC appears to be, Auburn would definitely slightly lighten the workload it has to do for its resume come January and February.

Matt Cohen covers Auburn sports activities for You’ll be able to comply with him on X at @Matt_Cohen_ or e mail him at [email protected]

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