Auburn basketball: 3 keys to victory vs. the Memphis Tigers

Auburn basketball Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
Auburn basketball Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports /

Auburn basketball takes on Memphis in their fifth game of this postseason-less 2020-21 college hoops season. The War Eagle has your 3 keys to victory this afternoon.

As we all know going into every contest in this strange 2020-21 college hoops season, Auburn basketball will not be qualifying for the postseason no matter what the results are for the rest of the schedule.

That won’t stop the team from establishing itself in the SEC West this year. So far the non-conference schedule has been unforgiving, with the Tigers barely escaping the Camping World Maui Invitational matchup against St. Josephs before being blown out 90-67 against the #1 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs on Black Friday.

They’ve since followed that up with a 63-55 loss to the UCF Knights and a 90-81 victory over the South Alabama Jaguars. Considering the Knights’ futility against Michigan earlier this week, that loss is looking worse as time goes on. The Jaguars, meanwhile, have been beating up non-Division I opponents while dropping a close contest to Jacksonville State and barely edging out the winless Florida Atlantic Owls.

This is all to say: the schedule is showing that this Auburn Tigers team may be a mediocre team at best based on early-season results.

Memphis is much like South Alabama; they’ve beaten the sub-par teams put in front of them but have yet to beat a legitimate opponent, losing by double-digits to VCU. Could Auburn take advantage of that and hand them their second loss of the season?

Here are the War Eagle’s 3 keys to that very situation happening:

1. Ride the hot hand of Justin Powell

Right now, the hot hand on Auburn basketball is very clearly owned by Justin Powell. Against South Alabama, he drained 7/9 of his attempts from the field…all from the 3-point line. That, combined with his 5/6 clip from the free-throw line, helped make up his 26/9/4 stat-line.

Assuming Bruce Pearl keeps Powell in the starting lineup, the Kentucky prospect from Prospect, Kentucky, is someone that needs to continue to see opportunities from the floor when he is finding the bottom of the net.

2. Contain D.J. Jeffries

Memphis’ best chance of a breakout individual performance is definitely from sophomore D.J. Jeffries. The Olive Branch, MS product was the high scorer in the team’s dismantling of Mississippi Valley State with 21, and has scored double digits in three of the Tigers’ five contests in 2020.

After averaging 11 points on 51/39/74 shooting splits last season, Jeffries set the bar high for his second season in the Bluff City. Bruce Pearl needs to gameplan to prevent him from finding a rhythm or else it could be a long night for Auburn basketball.

3. Improve the assist-turnover ratio

Auburn has not done a good job playing cohesively this season, with the Tigers having the 205th best assist: turnover ratio in the entire NCAA Division I. The Memphis Tigers, on the other hand, are in the top 100, with a 1.23 assist: turnover ratio.

Those two facts in conjunction are not exactly promising to hear for people of the Plains. If Pearl’s squad can aim to limit turning the ball over, they can give themselves a better chance at victory.

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