Jump to content

11/19/22 articles


Recommended Posts


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 takeaways from Auburn's 72-56 win over Texas Southern

Nathan King
7–9 minutes

AUBURN, Alabama — For the second straight Friday, Auburn slogged through early turnovers, then used its depth to pull away in front of an energetic home crowd.

The Tigers brushed off 11 first-half turnovers and got production from several spots in their lineup, as they closed out a four-game home stand to start the season with a 72-56 win over Texas Southern on Friday night.

“We beat a good team tonight," Bruce Pearl said. "Beat a team that’s got a chance to win the SWAC and be an NCAA tournament team."

Here are Auburn Undercover's immediate takeaways.

First-half turnover frenzy

Neither team found a consistent offensive flow in the first because, well, they weren’t holding onto the ball much.

Each team had 11 turnovers in the first half, with Auburn and Texas Southern turning it over on a near-even 32.4 percent and 31.4 percent of their total offensive possessions, respectively.

"We were sloppy with the ball, and that was an issue for us," Pearl said. "... That was a problem.”

Auburn had success in the paint but struggled to find its shooting stroke, missing its first six 3-pointers of the game before a make by K.D. Johnson. The home Tigers missed nine of their first 10 looks from downtown.

Texas Southern made four of its last five shots heading into the break, though, and were only down 29-27 at halftime.

Senior delivers for thin frontcourt

Auburn was without starting center Johni Broome due to a bone bruise suffered in the win over Winthrop on Wednesday, giving fellow junior Dylan Cardwell his first career start.

And without Broome, who dominated with 18 points and 13 rebounds Tuesday, Auburn’s most experienced big man stepped up in a big way.

Jaylin Williams delivered with 14 points, his most in a game since last January in a home win over Florida (18 points), plus a team-high eight rebounds. The 6-foot-9 power forward was just as effective on the defensive end, too, with three steals and two blocks in the first half and a team-high 95.8% percent stop rate for the game.

Senior center Stretch Akingbola played his most minutes of the season (eight) in Broome’s absence, and struggled severely. He went 0-of-3 from the field, including an airballed hook shot, and was beaten on defense for a Texas Southern bucket on two straight possessions in the first half.

Cardwell, who entered the game second nationally at 4.97 blocks per game, had an efficient night, making all three of his shots and tallying three blocks.

Five-star freshman Yohan Traore got into early foul trouble and saw little usage, attempting just one shot and playing only 12 minutes, with three turnovers and four fouls.

Broome's defensive presence was missed, too, as both teams had 36 points in the paint.

Pearl elaborated on Broome's injury postgame: He "banged knees" with a Winthrop player Tuesday. Pearl said Broome should be available for the Tigers' next two games in Cancun.

The gravity of K.D. Johnson

There was a sequence midway through the second half where the entire building felt as if it would bend to K.D. Johnson’s will.

Having his best game of the season already, Johnson drilled a 3-pointer to put Auburn up by 11. The energetic guard then grabbed a steal near midcourt and had no defenders anywhere near him. He chose to lob it off the backboard to Allen Flanigan for a slam, as Auburn’s student section went ballistic.

The visiting Tigers traveled on their next possession, prompting the under-12 media timeout, which Johnson celebrated right in front of Texas Southern’s bench. A few TSU coaches took offense, and Johnson, unsurprisingly, jawed right back.

An unintimidated Texas Southern squad attempt to challenge Johnson’s energy, and the junior responded with Auburn’s best scoring performance of the game.

With 16 points off the bench, Johnson paced Auburn’s offense right out of the gate, with 8 points in the first 7 minutes.

"He was still intense, he was still aggressive, but he was under control," Pearl said of Johnson. "He did it with purpose. He's been working really hard to do that, to letting us coach him. He was obviously really effective out there."

Auburn pulls away in transition

Starting point guard Wendell Green Jr. didn’t score until 17:10 left in the second half — but his bucket, plus Williams’ second 3-pointer of the night, an offensive rebound for the senior forward, and a forced turnover by Flanigan on a routine inbound pass were as part of an 11-0 run for Auburn go up by 9 points, the Tigers’ largest lead of the game to that point. Following a chippy flagrant foul that led to assistant coach Steven Pearl and Texas Southern forward Joirdon Karl Nicholas exchanging words on the floor, it was a 14-2 run for Auburn to go up 10.

Texas Southern was a veteran and physical bunch, and Pearl told his players as much heading into the game. He was glad for the wake-up call, though, and for the way his team responded when they were trailing early in the second half.

"I think that surprised my kids when I said, 'No, this is going to come down — it's going to be fairly close,'" Pearl said. "I just think they've been kind of able to just blow people out. When it did get elevated, our guys definitely responded, and that was a bit of a turning point."

The home Tigers pulled away by stringing together several defensive stops and converting them into transition buckets. Auburn had 16 fastbreak points in the second half and 28 for the game.

"The key to that was the rebounding," Pearl said of transition scoring. "The key to that was the fact that Jaylin or Chris or whoever it was, Al, got on the boards. Wendell had four defensive rebounds. Al had four defensive rebounds. We got out and we went. That was really key. That easy offense made a big difference, but it started with defending and rebounding and then we got those outlets and really hurt them in transition."

Moore's strong start continues

Pearl continues to start junior Chris Moore at the 3 spot over the more experienced Flanigan. And continues to produce.

Making 3-of-4 attempts from beyond the arc, Moore had 11 points of his 14 points in the second half, plus seven rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal in the victory. It was Moore's first game scoring double digits since his career-high 16 points in the second game of last season against Louisiana Monroe.

"It was just being aggressive," Moore said. "I don't know if y'all see on the sidelines, Coach goes crazy when I don't score the ball this year. I ain't ever played for a coach who gets on me for not scoring the ball. So it was just being confident, just trusting in my abilities and my coach's belief."

With Williams logging some extra minutes at the 5 to make up for Broome's absence, Moore had to moonlight some at the 4 spot.


"Obviously, Chris Moore played really well," Pearl said. He's a team favorite, fan favorite—just because he's a great kid and works so hard and has been so unselfish kind of waiting his turn. It’s good to see him play with confidence."

Auburn has now had three double-digit scorers (Johnson, Williams and Moore on Friday) in three of four games.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Takeaways from No. 13 Auburn’s 72-56 win against Texas Southern

Updated: Nov. 18, 2022, 10:08 p.m.|Published: Nov. 18, 2022, 9:07 p.m.
7–9 minutes

Tempers flared early in the second half at Neville Arena after K.D. Johnson drew a hard foul on a fastbreak.

A Texas Southern player stood over Johnson while he remained down on the floor. Then Auburn assistant Steven Pearl stepped onto the court to try to defuse the situation as Allen Flanigan came racing in, prepared to defend his teammate. When things finally settled down, Texas Southern’s Zytarious Mortle was tagged with a flagrant foul, sending Johnson to the line for two shots plus possession.

Johnson split the free throws, but in the end, it was he and Auburn who got the last laugh in a 72-56 win Friday night. The heated sequence with the flagrant foul came at the tail end of a 14-2 Auburn run that saw it claim its first double-digit lead of the night after Texas Southern grabbed a lead early in the second half, as Bruce Pearl’s team never looked back on its way to its fourth straight win to open the season. Just minutes after that exchange, Johnson drilled a 3-pointer, then followed it up with a steal and an off-the-backboard lob to Allen Flanigan for a reverse dunk that put Auburn in front by 13.

“When it did get elevated, our guys definitely responded, and that was a bit of a turning point,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “...I thought our guys definitely responded to the physicality and all the talk.”

Johnson finished with a team-high 16, while Jaylin Williams and Chris Moore scored 14 apiece for Auburn, which finished off its four-game season-opening homestand with its undefeated record intact as it heads to Mexico next week for the Cancun Challenge.

“I just think we did what we needed to do in this four-game homestand,” Pearl said. “I do think we’ve gotten better. I do think we’ve learned, and we’ll go from there.”

Here are AL.com’s key takeaways from Friday’s action:

Johni Broome’s absence was felt, but Jaylin Williams stepped up

Johni Broome had his best game in an Auburn uniform on Tuesday against Winthrop, dominating the Eagles with an 18-point, 13-rebound, five-block effort. Auburn didn’t have the luxury of his presence down low against Texas Southern, as he was sidelined after banging his knee against Winthrop and was only available in an emergency scenario. Broome’s absence meant an altered rotation at the five for Auburn, with Dylan Cardwell drawing the start, and freshman Yohan Traore and Stretch Akingbola working into the rotation. Traore has mostly played the four to this point, but he signed with Auburn as a “combo forward” who could play multiple spots in the frontcourt.

Auburn was also forced to go to a small-ball lineup late in the first half, with Jaylin Williams at the five after Traore picked up his second foul. Of Auburn’s big men, it was Williams who stepped up most against Texas Southern. The senior finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks. Williams led Auburn in rebounds, assists and steals on the night.

“Four steals?,” Williams said, looking down at the box score. “Looks like I was on 2K.”

Cardwell was efficient in his start, finishing with six points on 3-of-3 shooting and adding three blocks, as he has blocked at least three shots in each of Auburn’s four games to open the year. Cardwell also finished a team-best plus-27 for the game.

Traore struggled, as the freshman was scoreless, committed four fouls and turned the ball over three times in 12 minutes. Akingbola was also scoreless, going 0-for-3 from the floor in eight minutes off the bench.

Broome’s absence was most felt in the paint, though, as Texas Southern matched Auburn in points in the paint, with 36 on the night, and scored 16 second-chance points at Neville Arena.

“I thought Jaylin played well,” Pearl said. “I didn’t think his first rotation was good. Same thing with Dylan. I think they both needed to play better earlier when your starting center is out. It just took a little while for those guys to get going. But, the sum of our parts, that’s our greatest strength.”

Inconsistent shooting, turnovers a problem

Auburn’s shooting woes continued Friday, as the team’s slow start to the season continued in that aspect. Auburn finished the game against Texas Southern shooting 17-of-25 on dunks and layups but just 8-of-31 (25.8 percent) on the rest of its shot attempts, that included just 7-of-27 (25.9 percent) from 3-point range, with three of those makes coming from Chris Moore, who was 3-of-4 from deep.

Auburn’s first-half shooting, combined with turnovers (more on those in a second) allowed Texas Southern to keep it close at the break. Pearl’s team was 7-of-14 on dunks and layups in the first half but just 4-of-17 (23.5 percent) on the rest of its shot attempts in the opening 20 minutes. That included a 3-of-15 start from beyond the arc.

On the turnover front, Auburn committed 20 on Friday, which led to 25 Texas Southern points. Eleven of those turnovers came in the first half, including three from Wendell Green Jr., who was coming off a performance against Winthrop in which he had five assists without committing a turnover. Those 11 turnovers in the first half led to 14 Texas Southern points, as the visiting Tigers were able to keep it a two-point game going into halftime, with Auburn ahead 29-27. Green finished with a team-high five turnovers against just three assists, to go along with four points and four rebounds.

“I think, obviously, from a scouting standpoint, Wendell had been playing so well in our first three games that Johnny just wasn’t going to let Wendell beat us, and so they doubled him a lot in those ball-screens, and it bothered him,” Pearl said. “But that’s what your teammates are for. I thought that we had a bunch of guys respond.”

A strong start for Chris Moore

Chris Moore has adjusted well to his starting role at the three to open the year, and Friday was his best game to date this season. Moore finished with a season-high 14 points, shooting 4-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-4 from deep. Eleven of his points came in the second half, and he finished two points shy of matching his career high of 16, which he set last season against ULM. That was Moore’s only double-digit game last season, and the only other one during his career prior to Friday night was an 11-point effort against Missouri as a freshman.

“It was just being aggressive,” Moore said of his second half. “I don’t know if y’all see on the sidelines, Coach goes crazy when I don’t score the ball this year. I ain’t ever played for a coach who gets on me for not scoring the ball. So it was just being confident, just trusting in my abilities and my coach’s belief.”

Along with his scoring outburst, Moore pulled down seven rebounds and dished out three assists while adding a steal and a block. The junior has settled in well early this season now that he’s fully healthy. He played last season with a stress fracture in his shin, and he underwent surgery in the spring that sidelined him for three months.

“He was a beast,” Pearl said. “I love his physicality.”

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

If you purchase a product or register for an account through one of the links on our site, we may receive compensation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...