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Scouting the Opposition and Keys to the Game: Ole Miss Hoops Travels to Auburn

Scouting the Opposition and Keys to the Game: Ole Miss Hoops Travels to Auburn

The No.22-ranked Ole Miss Rebels (15-2, 2-2 SEC) look to get back to their winning ways as they continue their roadtrip, heading to Auburn, AL to take on the Auburn Tigers (15-2, 4-0 SEC).

Ole Miss is coming off its second loss of the season against the LSU Tigers Wednesday night with a final score of 89-80. The Rebels kept the game close in the first half, but LSU pulled away in the second half to hand Chris Beard’s squad its first loss on this two-game road trip. Ole Miss would have liked to have won this game, especially with a difficult portion of the schedule coming up with trips to Auburn and Texas A&M.

The Auburn Tigers enter into this matchup sporting a 10-game win streak. Their last loss occurred on December 3rd against Appalachian St. This Tiger team is one of the best teams in the SEC, and fully deserving of the 13th ranking in this week’s AP Poll. 

Auburn is coming off an away victory over Vanderbilt in Nashville Wednesday night. The Tigers dominated the entire game, barring a late Vanderbilt run, to earn the 80-65 victory. Winning big has been a theme with the Tigers over their 10-game win streak. Auburn held a 25-point lead over LSU last week and handed the Arkansas Razorbacks their worst home defeat in the history of that program. Head coach Bruce Pearl’s team is no joke.

Nevertheless, the Rebels are looking to earn their first SEC road win of the season today, and I am sure you are looking forward to reading another rendition of  “Scouting the Opposition: Auburn Tiger Edition.”

Who are the Auburn Tigers?

Like I said, Auburn has played like one of the top teams in the country. They will be competing to win the SEC title again this year. The Tigers’ three-time SEC Coach of the Year, Bruce Pearl, coaches a very highly-ranked and respected team. According to Joe Lunardi’s bracketology on ESPN, Auburn is currently listed as a three seed. In addition, the Tigers are currently No. 7 in the NET rankings and have a ton of wins over top programs across the country. The Tigers have beaten the likes of Indiana, USC, St. Bonaventure, LSU, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, and many other programs. Their biggest loss of the season came against Baylor in the first game of the season in South Dakota. 

Below is a breakdown of their entire quad wins and losses:

Q1: 0-1

Q2: 5-1

Q3: 4-0

Q4: 6-0

Ole Miss and Auburn do share some common opponents so far. They have both played LSU, Vanderbilt, and Alabama St. Auburn won all three of these games quite handily, while Ole Miss recently lost to LSU. The Rebels did not have any trouble with Vanderbilt or Alabama St. Today’s game won’t be the only meeting of the season for the Rebels and Tigers, as Auburn will travel to Oxford in two weeks to take on the Rebels inside the SJB Pavilion.

Scouting the Tigers:

Bruce Pearl’s squad is one of the most unique teams in the entire country. Auburn currently has 10 players that average over 15 minutes per game. They play a platoon-like system where they substitute all 5 starting players at the exact same time. Auburn plays like two different teams because they have the depth and quality to do so. The last team in the SEC that played with a platoon rotation was the undefeated Kentucky Wildcat team from 2014-15 who had Devin Booker and Karl Anthony-Towns. The fact that Auburn can legitimately play ten starting quality guys over 15 minutes per game gives them an added edge that no other team in college basketball possesses.

In previous versions of “Scouting the Opposition,” we’ve talked at length about what the opposing team does well and what the opposing team does not do well. We’ve also highlighted players to watch out for along the way. This is not going to be the case for the Auburn edition. Bruce Pearl’s team leads or is close to the lead in the SEC in every major/minor statistical category. 

For today’s edition, we are going to provide a more in-depth look at the Auburn Tigers personnel and highlight some keys that Ole Miss can do to try and come away from the Plains with a win.

Star forwards: Johni Broome and Jaylin Williams

The best team in defensive net rating and the 3rd-best team in offensive net ratings in the SEC, Auburn is led by two star forwards, Johni Broome and Jaylin Williams. 

Johni Broome transferred to Auburn in his sophomore season from Morehead St. and is currently averaging 15 points, nine rebounds, and two assists per game. The First Team Preseason All-SEC forward will be one of the more talented forwards Ole Miss faces in the SEC. On offense, he can run the floor in transition, play out of the pick and roll, and score at will inside the paint. He is also 2nd in the SEC in rebounding, and is a big part of the Tigers’ ability to score second-chance points. Auburn is top in the SEC in the second-chance point category as well.

Defensively, Broome anchors the best defensive unit in the SEC, and is second in the SEC in *blocked shots with two per game, right behind Ole Miss’ Jamarion Sharpe. Broome, the 6 foot-10 forward, also headlines one of the longest teams in the entire NCAA. Auburn is top 10 in the country in defensive rating, and it’s because of their ability to play great on ball defense. Auburn has two 6-foot-7 guards and another 6-foot-4 guard. They have the ability to match up with just about any team in the country.

The second star of the Auburn Tigers is 5th-year senior Jaylin Williams. Williams has been Auburn’s best all-around player the entire season. The 6-foot-8 forward averages 13 points, five rebounds, and two assists per game. 

Williams has been playing his best basketball of the season in the past 10 games. Against Texas A&M, he scored 22 points on eight-of-ten from the field. He followed that great performance up by scoring 21 points against Vanderbilt by going seven-for-seven from the field. Outside of his scoring, he has averaged eight rebounds per game in his last three games. He and Broome will give Ole Miss fits on the boards this game.

Williams grades out in the 99th percentile in offense and averages an astonishing 1.278 points per possession. Over his last five games, has shot the ball very well, making 71.4% of his FG’s and 57.1% of his 3PT

Point Guards: Aden Holloway and Tre Donaldson

As seen in previous seasons, Bruce Pearl loves his undersized point guards. This season is no exception. The Tigers have two star point guards who run the offense on each of the Tigers platoons. The first and starting point guard is freshman Aden Holloway. Holloway, 6-foot-1, is a McDonald’s All American and only the 6th McDonald’s All American in Auburn History. 

Holloway is one of the best freshman guards in the entire country and definitely the SEC. He is the top freshman in assist-to-turnover ratio in the conference. Holloway is third in this category with a 3.5x for players who have over 100+ minutes this season. He is behind Zyon Pullin (Florida) and Ta’lon Cooper (South Carolina). 

Simply put, Holloway helps make Auburn the best assisting team in the SEC and top 10 in the NCAA. Auburn prides itself on ball movement and Holloway is the main facilitator of this. This could provide an area of emphasis for today’s game as Ole Miss has struggled against teams with heavy ball movement and assist percentage.

Even as a freshman, Aden Holloway is such a fun player to watch. He loves to play out of the *pick and roll with Johni Broome, and he also loves to shoot threes. He has 65 pick and roll possessions this year, which is slightly over 1/3 of his offensive possessions. He is currently averaging seven attempts per game, and is shooting 35% behind the arc.

The second point guard to watch is Tre Donaldson. Donaldson, 6-foot-2, averages 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. Donaldson was supposed to be the starting point guard this season; however, with the recruitment of Holloway, he is heading up the second unit. Donaldson loves to play quickly and distribute the basketball any chance he can get. He is always leading in transition as Auburn loves to get out and run if they turn the other team over. He may not have the best statistics compared to Holloway; however, he does lead all guards in offensive +/-, so his presence can’t be underestimated.

Hot Heads: 

This is a category to signify the best of the rest. In every single SEC game Auburn has played, the stars have delivered. They are stars for a reason. However, a different member of Auburn’s second platoon has always shown out in at least one conference game this year. 

The first player I want to touch on is Chad Baker-Mazara. Baker-Mazera has been the hottest player for this Tiger team since the start of conference play. He dropped 16 points against Arkansas and 19 points against Vanderbilt coming off the bench. The 6-foot-7 point guard has been averaging 13 points in his last five games. He has been the team’s most efficient shooter all season by shooting 44% from the floor. Baker-Mazera is also a force on the defensive end as he is great at stealing the basketball and is leading the team in that category.

The second player who has made an impact is Dylan Cardwell. Cardwell is the backup center for this team and is the ultimate hustle guy. His stats won’t blow you away, but he brings the energy and the rebounding for the 15 minutes per game he plays. KD Johnson is another player to watch out for. He scored 14 points off the bench against Texas A&M and is currently shooting 39% from the field. Johnson, like Cardwell, can come into the game and bring the hustle and energy. He will only play 15 minutes, but he will play hard for all 15 of those.

Keys to the Game

This will be a tough road matchup for Ole Miss as the Rebels face their second top-10 opponent on the road this season. Ole Miss will need to play a perfect game for almost all 40 minutes. It is tough to win on the road in the SEC, but it is even tougher to go into an AP ranked team’s home arena and steal a win.

Here are some keys for a Rebel win:

  1. Ole Miss will need to not turn the ball over and rebound to help them win this game. The makings of an upset always start with winning the turnover and rebounding battles. It is crucial to not give Auburn easy points or second chance points. Win the turnover battle and limit them on the boards.
  2. Live and die by the three. Ole Miss has shot the three well all season long. They have not shot the three a lot though which does help their efficiency. The Rebels will need to shoot more threes and continue that efficiency for them to win in Neville Arena on Saturday. 
  3. Utilize Allen Flanigan and Wes Flanigan. Both the father and son were inside the Auburn locker room last season as a player and coach, respectively. Hopefully they can use some of their knowledge of Auburn to find holes in their game plan to get Ole Miss easier looks offensively and not put themselves in difficult situations defensively. 
  4. Protect the paint. Auburn has been a different team since its big win over Indiana earlier this year. In the two losses Auburn has, the Tigers struggled to score inside. In their loss to Appalachian State, Auburn was effective in the paint making 54.5% of their attempts there. However, the Mountaineers kept them from even touching the paint as only 16.7% of their total attempts were in the paint. There have been 9 instances this year where Auburn has taken fewer than 10 attempts in the paint, Ole Miss should look to up that figure into the double digits.
  5. Be Aggressive. This Auburn team is tough to score on and Ole Miss can’t get in a position to win the game off of long scoring runs. Instead, Ole Miss can use that same aggression it used late in the game against LSU to find points today. The Rebels drew fouls down the stretch to try and find their way back. Today, they need to continue to get downhill and to the rim to get the free ones. In Auburn’s two losses, Baylor had a FT attempt rate of 56.7% and Appalachian State had one of 60.8%. Jaemyn Brakefield, Jaylen Murray, and Allen Flanigan have all excelled in SEC play at drawing fouls. Don’t let the Tigers push you out, and go at them. 

Game Info

Make sure to catch the Ole Miss Rebels tonight as they take on the Auburn Tigers in Auburn at 7:30 pm CST. The game will be aired on the SEC Network. 

(Feature image credit: Ole Miss Athletics)

Coleman Young

Coleman Young

Coleman Young is a 2021 graduate of Ole Miss. Born and raised in Baltimore, Coleman has always been an avid basketball fan, growing up watching the Maryland Terrapins. His love for college hoops grew even more when he attended Ole Miss in 2017. Coleman is a huge fan of all Ole Miss sports as well as the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles. He was previously an Ole Miss College Hoops contributor at

About The Author

Coleman Young

Coleman Young is a 2021 graduate of Ole Miss. Born and raised in Baltimore, Coleman has always been an avid basketball fan, growing up watching the Maryland Terrapins. His love for college hoops grew even more when he attended Ole Miss in 2017. Coleman is a huge fan of all Ole Miss sports as well as the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles. He was previously an Ole Miss College Hoops contributor at

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