#19 Auburn vs Syracuse Game Preview and Open Thread

Friday, November 26, 2021

#19 Auburn vs Syracuse Game Preview and Open Thread

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Loyola-Chicago
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn closes their stint in the Bahamas with a chance at some redemption.

Friday November 26th, 2021

Auburn Tigers vs Syracuse Orange

Battle 4 Atlantis

Imperial Arena - Nassau, Bahamas

Time: 3:30PM CT

Network: ESPN2, Auburn Radio Network

Before the Auburn Tigers won the 2018 SEC Regular Season Championship and played in the NCAA Tournament that year, Auburn had been missing in the NCAA Tournament since 2003. The team they were eliminated by: the Syracuse Orange in the Sweet 16.

So fast forward 18 years later and while few on this roster will have any remembrance of that game, it’s finally time for a little revenge on the Cuse.

That 79-78 Sweet 16 win for Syracuse was on their way to a National Championship that featured a freshmen who became the 3rd pick in the 2003 NBA Draft and has had himself quite the career. No I’m not comparing Carmelo Anthony to Jabari Smith here but a lot of people rate Smith as the 3rd best prospect in this class behind Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero, who play each other tonight in Vegas.

What remains the same from that 2003 though is this: Jim Boeheim is still at Syracuse and Marquis Daniels will be on the Auburn sideline once again, this time as a coach. So will Gerry McNamara who was also a member of Syracuse’s 2003 team. But enough nostalgia, this is an intriguing matchup for Auburn as they will go up against the master of zone defense in Jim Boeheim and Syracuse. No, they likely won’t see zone for 40 minutes again this season but surely other teams will employ zone at some point so why not get a game where Auburn has to overcome it early in the season?

Auburn will face yet another team today that made the NCAA Tournament last season. (Morehead State, UConn and Loyola-Chicago were the first 3) and the second team that made it to the Sweet 16. Auburn won a gritty and much lower scoring game yesterday against Loyola-Chicago 62-53. Walker Kessler had 13 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks in his second straight double-double for the Tigers. Jabari Smith led the way with 14 points on an efficient 7-9 shooting from the field. He didn’t get to the free throw line like he did on Wednesday where he was 12-12 but made some big shots down the stretch to help build a lead that Auburn wouldn’t let get away.

Auburn allowed the Ramblers to shoot 6-10 from 3-point range in the first half but just 1-13 in the second half. Can Auburn replicate Arizona State’s 2nd half performance against the Syracuse zone? Last night, the Sun Devils made 11 3-pointers as they attempted to overcome an 18 point halftime deficit last night. The looks will be there for Auburn, they just need to be able to knock them down.

Depth could be a factor in this one and Auburn has the advantage here. While the Tigers play 10-11 guys, Syracuse doesn’t have the depth of Auburn and this will now be the team’s 3rd game in 3 days. The Orange starting 5 each played 35+ minutes in last night’s game. We saw Coach Pearl rotating guys in and out more frequently yesterday and I think you’ll see that more today to keep guys as fresh as possible and allow Auburn to have their best 5 out there in crunch time.

Get to Know Syracuse

Yesterday, Auburn faced the youngest head coach in Division 1 in Drew Valentine. Today they face one of the oldest and one who has coached at Syracuse for 45 years in Jim Boeheim. Boeheim played for Syracuse and its the only school he has ever coached at. Now, he’s getting an opportunity to coach his two sons as well.

Syracuse comes into this one averaging 80.8 PPG but has given up 74.8 PPG this season and lost 100-85 to Colgate in the Carrier Dome earlier this year and fell 68-55 to VCU in the first game of this tournament. As a team, Syracuse shoots 38.3% from 3-point range.

Senior Buddy Boeheim (#35) is a 6’6” guard that Auburn will try to slow down today. So far this season, Buddy is averaging 20.6 PPG and averages 37.5 MPG so he will likely play close to if not all of the game again today.

The other Boeheim, Jimmy (#0), is a graduate student forward who came home to play for his father after 4 years at Cornell. Jimmy didn’t play last season due to COViD cancelling the Ivy League season but led the Big Red in scoring his final year of playing there averaging 16.7 PPG. This year for Syracuse, he’s 3rd on team so far averaging 14.3 PPG and the team’s leading rebounder at 7.8 RPG.

Junior guard Joseph Girard III (#11) has been incredible efficient from 3-point range and the free throw line for Syracuse so far this season. Girard is averaging 16 PPG and 5 APG and is shooting 63% from 3-point range (17-27) and 92.9% from the free throw line as well.

Next is another grad student forward Cole Swider (#21), a transfer from Villanova averaging 11.6 PPG and 7.4 RPG so far this season. He had 19 points last night in the win over Arizona State.

Finally in the middle is junior center Jesse Edwards (#14) who had a career night last night for Syracuse with a career high 21 points and also tied his career high with 8 rebounds. Edwards is shooting 75.9% from the field (22-29) and averaging 10.8 PPG and 5.2 RPG.


I’m looking forward to this matchup this afternoon and think it comes down to which team shoots the 3 better. Both teams are highly capable of doing and can do it really well. The team that shoots the 3 better will win this game. So far this season, the zone defense has not been a strong point for Syracuse so if Auburn can attack it at will, then I like the Tigers chances. This game as I mentioned below could come down to who has enough gas left in the tank. I think Auburn’s depth ends up being the difference here and a 2-1 trip to the Bahamas would have to be called a major success.

Auburn 84 Syracuse 77

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