Shorthanded Tigers grab road win
Just before tipoff on Saturday, Auburn confirmed what many expected. Bryce Brown would be out with the shoulder injury that sidelined him against Texas A&M. With Auburn's leading scorer out, Bruce Pearl needed some of his other veterans to step up and get Auburn a crucial road win. As has been the case all year, Pearl's squad answered his call and Auburn left Athens with a 78-61 victory and their first season sweep of the Bulldogs since 1986.
In Auburn's loss to Texas A&M, the Aggies found success where Auburn typically dominated. A&M hit more three pointers than Auburn and pulled down 11 more rebounds. Against Georgia, Auburn was back in their comfort zone.
Auburn's three point shooting was significantly better than Mark Fox's team. The Tigers shot 44 percent from behind the three point line, hitting 11, while Georgia struggled to find any consistency. The Bulldogs were able to muster just 28 percent shooting from deep.
Jared Harper was one of the players Pearl felt had to step up and he delivered with one of his best games of the year. Playing almost every minute of the contest, Harper scored a season high 24 points and a team best seven assists. Harper has made a massive transformation since last season, going from one of the team's biggest liabilities to one of their best all around players.
Mustapha Heron followed up his incredible second half against Texas A&M with a great effort against the Bulldogs. The sophomore scored 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting.
Freshman Davion Mitchell also played one of his best games of the season. After a zero point outing in the Texas A&M loss, Mitchell tallied seven points on 3-of-6 shooting to go along with two assists. His defensive skill, a positive for him all season, contributed greatly to Auburn's success defending the perimeter.
On the whole, Auburn played aggressive defense against the Bulldogs, forcing 13 turnovers. Auburn was also able to create more out of the turnovers they forced, scored 24 points of turnovers to Georgia's nine.
The road win was a big one for Auburn, getting the Tigers back on track after the A&M loss. After going 1-1 on the week, Auburn dropped in the AP Poll but stayed in the top 10, bringing up the rear at 10th.
The Tigers now move on to a Valentine's Day showdown with the Kentucky Wildcats. John Calipari's squad is packed with talent but chemistry and effort issues have derailed SEC play. The Wildcats sit at .500 in the conference and have lost three in a row entering Wednesday's game. Still, the Tigers will have to play their best basketball against one of the SEC's most talented teams.