Friday, December 19, 2008

game preview: Auburn

Tomorrow, the team takes on Auburn. And tomorrow is the official beginning of the Christmas hiatus, or it will be if the ten inches of snow don't close down the airport. I'm (probably) not going to shut 'er down entirely, but posting between tomorrow and the Monday after Christmas will be on a when-I-damn-well-feel-like-it basis. In case that doesn't happen between now and Thursday: Merry Christmas.

Virginia Cavaliers (4-3, 0-0) vs. Auburn Tigers (5-4, 0-0)

Possible starting lineups:


PG: Sammy Zeglinski (13.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.3 apg)
SG: Mamadi Diane (5.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.9 apg)
SF: Sylven Landesberg (19.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.3 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (9.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 1.3 apg)
C: Assane Sene (2.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 0.0 apg)


PG: Quantez Robertson (6.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.3 apg)
SG: Tay Waller (12.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.1 apg)
G: Dewayne Reed (11.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 4.0 apg)
F: Lucas Hargrove (7.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.4 apg)
F: Korvotney Barber (13.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 0.2 apg)

OK, so, that whole spiel I had for the South Florida game, about how they were a crummy opponent from a big-time conference blah blah blah, pretty much just recycle that for this Auburn game. Only we're kind of a crummy opponent from a big-time conference too. This is one of nine ACC-SEC matchups and the least likely to attract any attention.

Auburn has been haunting the bottom of the SEC standings for a few years now. About five years ago they mustered up a Sweet Sixteen run, giving eventual champ Syracuse a run for their money before bowing out. Since then: ttthhbbbppptttt. SEC basketball being not quite SEC football, teams not named Kentucky can sometimes fall off the scene as quickly as they came. Quicker, actually.

The Tigers' go-to guy is Korvotney Barber, the closest thing they have to a legit post presence. Barber is a good scorer and rebounder, but smaller than Mike Scott and an atrocious free-throw shooter. There's no reason not to be very physical with Barber. Auburn has a very well-rounded scoring presence, however, with four players averaging double digits. In particular, Tay Waller likes to bomb away from three-land, averaging nearly eight attempts a game. The flip side to that is that their depth doesn't go very far beyond that; six players get the bulk of the minutes.

Waller isn't the only Auburn Tiger that shoots threes. It's a huge part of their game plan; they're right around the top 50 out of 343 teams in three-point attempts. The problem is that they don't even come close to sniffing the top 200 in percentage. They'll fire away, but if they're not hitting, they're not winning.

Meaning I like our chances in this game. If the interior defense can shut down Barber, and there's no reason they shouldn't if they get physical and aren't afraid to send him to the line, it'll force Auburn outside, where they kind of like to be anyway, only aren't particularly good at. Our young team has a long way to go to compete in the ACC, but they're improving, and this is a good chance to take another step forward.

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