OXFORD, Miss. – Sophomore point guard Breein Tyree has become a leader for an Ole Miss offense that has been in desperate need of a hero in the early portion of SEC play. After scoring 17 points on the road against Georgia, Tyree delivered again against Mississippi State, scoring 16 points in the Rebels’ 64-58 win last Saturday over the Bulldogs.
Tyree’s production against State, along with the 21 points Deandre Burnett notched, were especially critical with junior guard Terence Davis in a bit of a slump the last three games.
Whether it’s a combo of Burnett/Tyree or Tyree/Davis, Ole Miss (9-6, 2-1 SEC) will need two to three of its five guards to lead the offense starting Tuesday night against No. 22 Auburn (14-1, 2-0 SEC). The Tigers have won 12 straight games this season.
Auburn is coming off its biggest victory of the season, an 88-77 win over then-No. 22 Arkansas. In the game, Auburn had five players who scored in double figures, and the Tigers recorded 15 assists off of 30 made field goals. Overall, Auburn shot 51.7 percent, as a team, from the floor.
Like the Rebels, Auburn has some talented guards in its backcourt, led by Mustapha Heron (15.9 points per game), and Bryce Brown (15.7 ppg). Thanks to the play of Heron and Brown, the Tigers’ offense is averaging 87.3 points per game which ranks 12th in the nation. Auburn also ranks top 25 nationally in scoring margin (+14.3), blocks per game (6.4), and free throw percentage (77.8). The Tigers’ Anfernee McLemore is ninth in the country as the SEC’s leader in blocks (3.2 per game).
In the series, Ole Miss has gotten the best of the Tigers as of late, winning 10 straight over Auburn and 13 out of the last 15 matchups.
Here are three areas to watch in the Ole Miss matchup against Auburn
1. Battle of the guards
This game will most likely come down to the play of the guards for both teams. Each program has relied on its guards to win games. Ole Miss guards have accounted for 72.1 percent of the Rebels’ scoring this season, while Brown, Heron, and Jared Harper have combined to average 43.4 ppg for Auburn.
2. Bench play
Both programs have had success this season thanks, in part, to the reserves coming off the bench. The Rebels lead the SEC with 452 points from their bench (30.1 per game), while the Tigers are No. 3 in the league (27.4).
Rebounding could be the difference in this one; each of the two were beaten on the boards in their last game, despite coming up with wins. Mississippi State out-rebounded Ole Miss, 45-41, in the Rebels’ win Saturday, and the Razorbacks out-rebounded Auburn, 35-30, in the Tigers’ 88-77 victory. The Tigers are 10th in the nation in rebounding (41.5), while the Rebels are at 111th (37.7).
Date: Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Time: 8:00 p.m. (CT)
Location: Auburn, Ala.
Television: ESPNU (Rich Hollenberg: play-by-play; Debbie Antonelli: analyst)
Last meeting: February 11, 2017 – Ole Miss won, 90-84, in Oxford, Miss.
Breein Tyree talks with the media after the win over State. (Video credit: Justin Dial, The Rebel Walk)