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Instant Analysis: Auburn defeats Winthrop 89-65 at Neville Arena

Published: Nov. 15, 2022, 8:15 p.m.
3–4 minutes

Johni Broome

Johni Broome (4) during the Basketball Game between the Auburn Tigers and Winthrop Eagles at Neville Arena in Auburn, AL on Tuesday, Nov 15, 2022. Zach Bland/Auburn TigersZach Bland/Auburn Tigers

No. 13 Auburn (3-0) had 11 players score at least one point, led by Johni Broome’s 18 points during Tuesday’s 89-65 victory against Winthrop. Broome scored his 1,000th career point in the first half. The Morehead State transfer got a double-double with 13 rebounds. Broom added five blocks to his stat sheet in the Auburn win.

Zep Jasper scored Auburn’s first bucket on a cover three, and Broome’s jumper in the paint at the 17:29 mark in the first half capped a 10-2 to start the game for the Tigers. Jasper finished the evening with eight points on 3-5 shooting and 2-3 from behind the three-point line.

Winthrop got within six points when Kelton Talford hit a running layup with 4:52 remaining in the first half in front of a spirited crowd at Neville Arena. K.D. Johnson completed a three-point play following Talford’s layup for three of his six points. The Tigers entered the locker room at halftime, leading 39-26.

Broome’s second-chance layup with 12:53 pushed the Tigers from a 13-point halftime advantage to a 63-33 lead in the second half. Tre Donaldson scored one of his five points on a free throw to push the lead to 31 two plays later.

Winthrop scored the first points, but Auburn took the lead a few seconds later and never let up. Auburn’s next game is against Texas Southern on Friday at home.

Let’s get into some observations from the wire-to-wire win for the Tigers.

1. Wendell Green has another strong performance.

Green continues to be a problem for opposing teams with his ability to get to the basket. He scored 16 points on 6-10 shooting. He got hot from the three-point line with a 4-6 shooting night from three. Another vital aspect is Green does not have a turnover, with four rebounds and five assists.

2. Defense

Auburn has held every team under 70 points through three games. Winthrop shot 36% from the field and 29% from three. Head coach Bruce Pearl told reporters that Auburn would win with an aggressive defense, and so far, he’s been right. The Tigers, conversely, had a solid shooting night. Auburn shot 40.5 percent in the first half compared to 31% for Winthrop. Auburn went 46.1% for the game and, in the second half, shot 39% from three.

If Auburn can hit shots while being a pesky defense, there is a good chance they’ll outscore many teams as the season progresses.

3. Young contributors

Freshman Yohan Traore had 11 points. Donaldson added five rebounds to his five points. Chance Westry had five points, three rebounds, and two assists in his debut. Westry had knee surgery before the season started. Despite getting called for three early, which limited his playing time, the potential for greatness did show when Westry was on the court.

Nubyjas Wilborn covers Auburn for Alabama Media Group.

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Dylan Cardwell’s rim protection a ‘factor’ for No. 13 Auburn early this season

Updated: Nov. 15, 2022, 8:38 a.m.|Published: Nov. 15, 2022, 7:00 a.m.
6–7 minutes

Dylan Cardwell had jokes Monday afternoon in the suites at Neville Arena.

Auburn’s backup center was asked about his prowess defending the rim early this season—10 blocks through the Tigers’ first two games—and he couldn’t help but crack a joke with one of his point guards, Tre Donaldson, sitting at his side.

“My guards getting driven by helps a whole lot,” Cardwell said, trying to keep a straight face. “The fact that we can stay in front of nobody, it feels good to block some shots.”

Read more Auburn basketball: Auburn signs four-star 2022 point guard Aden Holloway

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Cardwell was jesting, of course, but the 6-foot-11 center’s defense at the rim early this season has been no laughing matter. Cardwell has provided a defensive spark off the bench for Auburn through its first week of action, and he’ll look to maintain it Tuesday when No. 13 Auburn (2-0) hosts Winthrop (2-1) at Neville Arena for a 6 p.m. tip on SEC Network.

It’s early yet this season, but Cardwell has carved out a spot as one of the top rim protectors in college hoops through one week of games. His 10 blocks are tied for second-most in the nation, trailing only Oral Roberts’ Connor Vanover (14 blocked shots) and tied with USC’s Joshua Morgan.

Cardwell’s block percentage of 29.8 percent would be tops in the nation — ahead of Vanover’s 23.8 percent and Mogan’s 20.3 percent — if he played enough minutes to qualify. But Cardwell has done his damage on the defensive end coming off the bench for Auburn while averaging 16 minutes per game. As such, his per-40-minute (12.5 blocks) and per-100-possession (17.6 blocks) numbers are eye-popping so far.

“He and I talked a little bit about his conditioning, his rest,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said last week. “Just because — look, for a man his size, he moves about as good as anybody his size. Period. In college basketball. He really does. And so that’s the key to his effectiveness. He’s been really good to coach. He’s very accountable. I got on him a couple times pretty hard, but he knows how to take it. But it’s very important that Dylan brings that physicality.”

It has been welcome for Auburn through two games, especially as starting center Johni Broome has battled through a lingering ankle injury. Broome’s effectiveness has been hampered by the ankle, and while he was moving a little better during Sunday’s practice, it remains to be seen how long it takes for him to get full speed. That has made Cardwell’s effectiveness off the bench even more crucial to Auburn’s early success: He has stepped up, particularly defensively, and provided relief for Broome, who was the OVC Defensive Player of the Year last season at Morehead State.

“Me and Dylan go at it every day in practice,” Broome said. “So, I know what he’s about. He’s a monster. He’s physical. He’s strong. You know what I’m saying? He got all the moves around the basket. His defense is amazing. You know he’s a monster. We’re a very good duo together.”

Essentially, Auburn hasn’t lost a step at center when Broome checks out and Cardwell comes in. Along with his five blocks per game, Cardwell has made all three of his shot attempts this season while averaging 4.5 points and 5.5 blocks per game. He has also posted a 71.1 defensive rating, which leads the team and is just ahead of Broome’s 71.4.

As Pearl put it after the win against USF, Cardwell has been “a factor” so far this season.

The 6-foot-11 big man has taken a considerable step forward as a junior, with Pearl at one point this summer calling him the Tigers’ most improved player. He benefited from an offseason of physical development, as well as from spending last season learning behind Walker Kessler, last year’s national Defensive Player of the Year who also spent time training on the Plains this offseason ahead of his rookie year in the NBA.

“I learned a lot,” Cardwell said. “I learned when not to jump and I learned when to jump. He made a lot of nonbusiness decisions, but he didn’t get dunked on that many times. He had no fear when jumping. I’ve got a little bit, I second guess. If somebody is already up, I’m not going to jump late, but that’s something I did learn, just to jump with no fear. If you get dunked on, you’re still going to get drafted one day. You get put on Bleacher Report or something, but it’s not the end of the world. He was a fearless jumper, and he still is.”

Cardwell has tried to inherit that same mindset from Kessler, who led the nation in total blocks (155), block percentage (19.1 percent) and defensive box plus/minus (8.0), was tied for most blocks per game (4.6) and finished with the third-highest defensive rating (83.0) in the country last season.

“I feel like that’s my biggest improvement as far as defense goes, not jumping at every single pump fake and staying on the ground and being taken off the floor,” Cardwell said. “That’s something the coaches have been preaching this year, in nonconference especially, is staying on the floor and being second, because I’m so much bigger and more athletic than all the other people in the play, just not getting in foul trouble, not picking up stupid fouls. Just working on the timing and stuff this year has been a very big focal point for me.”

No joke, it has paid off for Cardwell in an already-expanded role for Auburn this season.

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

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Tigers gear up for tough matchup against Winthrop - The Auburn Plainsman

 
4–5 minutes

Off to a slow start on Friday, South Florida led No. 15 Auburn until halftime, but the Tigers came out of the locker room blazing, grabbing the Bulls by the horns and stealing the lead. Wendell Green Jr. and Allen Flanigan led the team’s offense with a combined 38 points. 

The veteran Flanigan made three of the five three-point shots made by the team. Chris Moore followed Green’s and Flanigan’s offensive surges by adding seven points and five rebounds to the scoreboard. Dylan Cardwell matched his career-high of five blocks and played a major role in Auburn’s second-half comeback. 

For the next stop on their long journey to the postseason, head coach Bruce Pearl’s Tigers will face Mark Prosser’s Eagles in the Jungle.

“I think this team [Winthrop] is better than South Florida from the standpoint of our matchup. They’ve got a couple of great shooters that are really confident. They’ll shoot the ball very well. They’ve got good backcourt play,” Pearl said. “For this early in the year, this will expose us, which is what you want. We’ll be challenged, and it’ll force us to execute offensively and defensively.” 

The last time Auburn played Winthrop was November 24, 2017, winning 119-85. Although the Tigers have a good record against Winthrop, this matchup will not be easy for them. In their 2021-22 season, the Eagles were named the Big South regular season champions. 

Pearl specifically mentioned Winthrop senior forward Cory Hightower and his ability to beat the Tigers at the three and four spots. He also mentioned junior forward Kelton Talford’s talent on the inside, and he is interested to see how Auburn’s defense will match Talford’s offensive ability. 

“You know, they know how to win. They’ve got good players. They have really good coaches,” Pearl said. “You just got to be excited about playing every night, you know, regarding the matchup, so that’s gonna be my message for our guys against Winthrop.”

Talford is off to a hot start for the Eagles, finishing with a double-double on 23 points and 11 rebounds in their second game against Piedmont. Hightower snagged nine rebounds in that game, but his season high in scoring came via 20 points in Winthrop's most recent game against Middle Tennessee. 

During the game against South Florida, shooting was a big problem for Auburn, especially in the first half. In that time frame, Auburn was 6-24 for field goals compared to 15-28 in the second half. For three-point field goals, the Tigers had 2-14 compared to the 3-11 in the second half. 

“This is a very hard-working team, and it frustrates me not seeing the ball go in for these guys. This team is prepared for the moment,” Cardwell said. “Some shots are early and contested, but I think we are taking the right shots.”

Johni Broome’s ankle continues to bother the forward, preventing him from participating at full strength. When asked about Chance Westry’s possible return, Pearl stated that there is a chance he will make an appearance tomorrow against the Eagles. 

“Chance picked up a lot of defense in Israel. And, you know, I just love his work ethic, and I’m excited to see him play in front of the Jungle,” Cardwell said. 

If Westry does return on Tuesday, it will likely be in the same fashion as Flanigan last season, with a gradual increase in playing time before he can truly be considered in any sort of starting role. 

The Tigers and Eagles tip off at 6 p.m. CST from Neville Arena, with the game broadcast on the SEC Network. 

Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.


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Broome breaks out with double-double as Tigers cruise

Mark Murphy
6–7 minutes

 

AUBURN, Alabama–Johni Broome was strong around the basket and the Tigers broke out of their early season shooting slump as Auburn defeated Winthrop 89-65 on Tuesday night at Neville Arena. Auburn improved to 3-0 with the win early in the basketball season while the Eagles dropped to 2-2.

The Tigers have now won 41 consecutive non-conference games at Neville Arena.

Broome, who has been limited by an ankle injury, made 9-17 field goals and pulled in 13 rebounds while blocking five shots. He did that damage in just 18 minutes of playing time.

The six-foot-ten post player said he liked the way the Tigers “kept their foot on the gas” and pulled away for a lopsided victory. He also said he focused on defense and rebounding with the thought that the points would come if he handled those other assignments.

"We knew from watching a lot of film that we had a big size advantage," Broome said. "Coming into the game, the first thing we did was try to get the ball inside. After that, everybody crashed (the boards). We just wanted to get our dominance by establishing the paint." The Tigers out-rebounded the Eagles 53-33 and pulled in 25 offensive rebounds.

Auburn made 9-23 threes and shot 46.6 percent from the field. The Eagles shot 36.1 percent from the field and made 6-21 threes.

"The only way that team could have beaten us was from three and we just didn't let them," said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. "It was good see our guys knock a few shots down, which will help their confidence and everything offensively. The kids have been working hard trying to get in the gym and get shots.

"Eleven guys with double-digit minutes shows you our defense and our balance," Pearl said. "It was good to get Chance (Westry) back. The kid played one, two and three–he played three positions tonight." Westry was on the court for 16 minutes and 33 seconds. He hit 2-6 field goals, was 0-2 from three, 1-1 at the foul line while pulling in two rebounds, scoring five points with two assists and two turnovers.

"It was great to have him out there," Pearl said of Westry. "He will play well. He can do a lot with or without the ball because he is a good player."

Wendell Green scored 16 points, dished out five assists while adding four rebounds in 22 minutes without a turnover. Pearl said that the junior point guard was impressive. "Wendell Green was the best player on the floor tonight, which was great to see. He just did whatever he wanted to do on the court tonight whenever he wanted to do it. It was fun to watch."

Yohan Traore was Auburn’s third double figures scorer with 11 points. It was a season-high for the six-foot-team freshman forward. The Tigers were 12-20 at the foul line with Traore responsible for half of those misses going 4-8 on free throws.

Unlike the previous game the Tigers came out shooting well and jumped to a 12-2 lead after rebound basket by Broome. The Eagles cut the lead to 20-15, but Auburn led by as many as 15 in the half and were on top 39-26 at the break despite hitting a cold streak with their shooting midway in the period.

Auburn got eight points, six rebounds and five blocked shots from Broome in the half. The half included the regular season debut of freshman Chance Westry, who scored three points while adding an assist in five minutes before sitting after picking up a third foul.

Green scored six points while adding three turnovers with no turnovers in the first half.

The Tigers shot 40.5 percent in the first half to 31 percent from the Eagles, who were out-rebounded 28-18 in the period. Auburn’s work on the boards helped the Tigers outscored the Eagles 22-10 for points in the paint.

Auburn built the lead to as many as 34 points thanks to a strong start in the second half and coasted home for the victory. "It would have been nice to have kept some of that lead," Pearl said. "I don't like the (new NCAA seeding) rule, but the more you win by the more credit you get for it."

Now in his ninth season directing the Tigers, Pearl'steams are 51-3 all-time in home non-conference contests.

Before the game Pearl said that Westry could play 10 or more minutes and that happened with more than 16 minutes of playing time at point guard, shooting guard and small forward. “It felt great,” Westry said of his opportunity. “I was waiting to play in a game and compete with my brothers, doing what my team needs, being off the ball and being on the ball."

With Westry playing again a deep roster becomes deeper, which the freshman said is a good thing. "We can get in and get out and give everything we’ve got while we’re out there, playing their hardest, competing at both ends.”

Worth Noting, Part 1: The Tigers outscored the Eagles 50-32 for points in the paint.

Worth Noting, Part 2: Johni Broome topped the 1,000-point mark in the first half and has 1,017 including his two seasons at Morehead State.

Stat of the Game: Auburn had just two turnovers in the first half while building the lead. For the game the Tigers had eight turnovers.

11446282.jpg?fit=bounds&crop=620:320,offset-y0.50&width=620&height=320 Johni Broome posted a double-double vs. Winthrop. (Photo: Jason Caldwell, 247Sports)

The visitors were led in scoring by Toneari Lane with 18 points and Kelton Talford with 16 points.

Box Score

Transition Success: The Tigers outscored the Eagles 17-3 in fastbreak points.

16COMMENTS

Second Half Shooting: In the final minutes Auburn made 52.8 percent of its field goals and hit 5-11 threes.

Up Next: The Tigers will return to action with a 7 p.m. CST home game on Friday vs. Texas Southern.

">247Sports
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