No. 19 Auburn hopes to shake off ugly loss, faces Georgia State

Following a disappointing 82-73 loss to Memphis on Saturday in Atlanta, No. 19 Auburn will look to get back into the win column when it hosts Sun Belt foe Georgia State Wednesday night.

An uncharacteristic defensive effort, turnovers, lackluster shooting and poor rebounding played a major role in the Tigers’ first loss, which snapped an eight-game winning streak for Bruce Pearl’s squad.

Auburn (8-1) yielded the most points it had all season against a well-coached Penny Hardaway team. The Tigers (from Tennessee) forced 15 turnovers and limited the Tigers (from Alabama) to just 38.1 percent shooting from the field (24 of 63), including 25 percent from behind the 3-point line (6 of 24). Memphis also outrebounded Auburn 43-32 and outscored Pearl’s team 50-24 in the paint.

“This is the first time that defense didn’t carry the day for us,” Pearl said. “We didn’t play with the effort and energy we have on defense. I have to take ownership of that. It’s on me.”

Wendell Green Jr. (13.4 points per game, 3.9 assists per game) and Johni Broome (10.9 ppg, 8.4 rebounds per game, 3.0 blocks per game) have been Auburn’s most consistent playmakers in the starting lineup. But the Tigers could benefit from another double-digit scorer in a starting five that’s primarily consisted of Green, Broome, Chris Moore (6.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg), Jaylin Williams (8.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Zep Jasper (3.7 ppg).

K.D. Johnson (10.9 ppg), Allen Flanigan (8.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Dylan Cardwell (5.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.8 bpg) have supplied instant energy and production off the bench for Pearl all season long. But more offense is needed if the Tigers want to repeat as Southeastern Conference champions.

Despite his 14 points in 25 minutes, Johnson made only 5 of 15 shots overall and was 1 of 7 from behind the arc against Memphis. Flanigan scored five points, but was 1 of 5 from the field, including 1 of 3 from beyond the arc.

“We didn’t have the same pop off the bench that we normally have,” Pearl said. “We could’ve won the game scoring 73 points, but we can’t win the game with Memphis scoring 82.”

Georgia State (5-4) is looking to return to the win column following a 66-46 road loss to Northeastern on Dec. 4. The 20-point loss was the Panthers’ worst of the season.

“We got away from playing hard, and never established our physicality and effort,” Georgia State head coach Jonas Hayes said. “We’re going to have a lot of time to reflect, so we’re going to do a deep dive. We’re going to autopsy this one.”

Dwon Odom has been held to 11 points combined in Georgia State’s last two games, but the shifty guard remains the team’s leader in minutes played (33.4 per game) and points per game (16.1).

Ja’Heim Hudson is averaging 11.3 points and a team-high 8.8 rebounds despite starting only three games. Jamaine Mann has been a versatile threat (10.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.3 apg) that has helped Georgia State on both ends of the court.

–Field Level Media