Auburn enters tonight’s game with a record of 18-2, 5-2 in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers are averaging 79.3 points per game which is 3rd in the conference and 22nd nationally. Just like typical Bruce Pearl teams, Auburn relies on guard play and pushing the pace on offense to find success. However, they don’t have the traditional shooters that a lot of his teams have had in the past which has made the way this team has scored their points a little bit different. They still shoot a lot of 3-pointers but are only connecting on 31.4% of their attempts. Due to their below-average outside shooting this season, Auburn has relied a lot on getting to the foul line and getting second chances from offensive rebounds. The Tigers get to the foul line the 6th most in the country and are 15th in offensive rebounding. This is a team that is just looking for sheer volume of shots and possessions in order to outscore you. The name of the game for Kentucky will be limiting second chance opportunities and staying out of foul trouble. Let’s dive in and go over the game plan for defeating Coach Bruce Pearl and the Auburn Tigers.
#5 J’von McCormick: 6’0″ 185 lbs, Senior Point Guard
11.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.7 apg
Point Guard. Very quick with the ball. Looking to attack. Better as a driver than a shooter. NO RIGHT HAND DRIVES!!! Give him an extra step or two to guard against the drive. Do not come out past the 3-point line to guard him. Go under the ballscreens when they are set for him. You can help off of him when he doesn’t have it and then closeout short if it is kicked to him. He is a capable 3-point shooter but he is much more dangerous driving it. If he makes a couple that is okay as long as we take away his layups and drives to the rim. Really looks to push it fast in transition. You have to get all the way back and get turned around to stop the ball. Don’t start back pedaling. Stay between him and the basket! Make him score over you. Bad free throw shooter. Foul if you are beat. No And-1s. Good offensive rebounder for his size, averaging 1 per game. Box out! NO LAYUPS!!!
#10 Samir Doughty: 6’4″ 195 lbs, Senior Guard
14.8, 3.9 rpg, 2.8 apg
Long, athletic guard. He will handle it a lot along with #5. Play him as straight up as you can, but error on the side of giving him a step and guarding against the drive. NO RIGHT HAND DRIVES!!! He is a willing and capable 3-point shooter, but he is much better from 2 than from 3. Just throw a hand up if he shoots. Gets to the free throw line a lot. Play without fouling as he drives it. Very aggressive. He is a good driver going either way, but he is going to finish everything with his right. Make him drive it left and finish it back into you with his right hand. Go under the ballscreens when they are set for him. You can help off of him when he doesn’t have it and closeout a step short to guard against the drive. Do not guard him beyond the 3-point line. Get the ball stopped when he brings it in transition. Stay between him and the basket. NO LAYUPS!!!
#23 Isaac Okoro: 6’6” 225 lbs, Freshman Forward
13.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.2 apg
Strong, athletic wing with great length. More of a driver than a shooter. NO RIGHT HAND DRIVES!!! Significantly better from 2 than 3 and really wants to drive it. Very physical driver. You have to be ready for him to bring it at you. Closeout short to stay between him and the basket. Be in help off of him when he doesn’t have it and the closeout short when it gets kicked to him to guard against the right hand drive. He will ballscreen some and pop into space to drive it. We can switch when he ballscreens. Excellent offensive rebounder! Averaging 2 offensive rebounds per game. BOX OUT!!! If he makes a couple of 3’s it is okay. We want to take away the drive and make him shoot from outside. NO LAYUPS!!!
#3 Danjel Purifoy: 6’7″ 230 lbs, Senior Forward
9.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg
Strong stretch-4. Pick-and-pop 4-man. SHOOTER!!! NO 3’s!!! 101 of 159 shots have been 3’s. Wants to shoot catch-and-shoot 3’s. Have to be there to take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s. Once you take the 3 away he will look to drive it right some. Be tight on him. No help off of him when he doesn’t have it. He is always playing with other non-shooters so help off of them. Make him put it on the floor when you closeout to him. Switch when he sets ballscreens to take away the pick-and-pop 3’s. Very good offensive rebounder. Have to box him out when the shot goes up! NO 3’s!!!
#50 Austin Wiley: 6’11” 260 lbs, Senior Center
10.1 ppg, 9.2 rpg
Strong, physical post. Really posts up hard. Runs the floor and will look to blow you up in transition or secondary at the front of the rim. Looking for opportunities to duck you in when the ball is in the half court. Have to be physical with him and do your work early to try and keep him from getting a deep post catch. Wants to score everything at the rim. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. No drop steps. Take away the drop step dunks and then be physical on his left shoulder. Looking to ballscreen and roll. Just keep diving ground and get back to him at the rim. Would rather post up than catch it on the roll unless it is an easy dunk. Excellent offensive rebounder. Averaging 3 offensive rebounds a game. BOX OUT!!!
#24 Anfernee McLemore: 6’7″ 220 lbs, Senior Forward
8.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg
Lefty. SHOOTER!!! NO 3’s!!! 63 of 111 shots have been 3’s. Have to be there to take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s. If he isn’t dribbling you aren’t close enough. Be tight on him. No help off of him when he doesn’t have it. Switch when he sets the ballscreens to take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s. Have to be there to take away his catch-and-shoot 3’s. Coming off of a 5/10 game from deep against Ole Miss. Left hand, right shoulder if he gets it around the basket. Box him out! NO 3’s!!!
#1 Jamal Johnson: 6’4″ 195 lbs, Redshirt Sophomore Guard
SHOOTER!!! NO 3’s!!! 57 of 68 shots have been 3’s. Have to be tight on him to take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s. If he isn’t dribbling then you aren’t close enough. Absolutely no help off of him. Chase him off downscreens. Get over the flares. Find him in transition. Be ready to communicate the switch when he long runs into the slip ballscreen. When you are guarding him you just need to worry about taking away his 3-point attempts. NO 3’s!!!
#35 Devan Cambridge: 6’6″ 190 lbs, Freshman Guard
SHOOTER!!! NO 3’s!!! 40 of 69 shots have been 3’s. Have to be tight on him to take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s. Will drive it right some, but really wants to catch-and-shoot. No help off of him when he doesn’t have it. Chase him off downscreens and get over the flares. Find him in transition. NO 3’s!!!
#22 Allen Flanigan: 6’5″ 200 lbs, Freshman Guard
Lefty. Backup guard. Much better from 2 than 3. Closeout short to stay between him and the basket. No left hand drives. Just throw a hand up to contest if he shoots from the perimeter. Very bad free throw shooter. Foul if you are beat. No And-1’s. Box out.
Auburn is a fast-paced team offensively that really looks to attack the basket off the dribble and runs some “quick-hitters” to get a basket early in the shot clock out of Secondary. They will really push it off of misses and try to get all the way to the rim. This isn’t as good of a shooting team as Bruce Pearl typically has, but they still shot a lot of 3’s and get to the foul line as much as anybody in the country. A lot of the actions they run are out of Secondary to try and get a quick but and they will just be in a dribble-drive, 4-around-1 Motion from there.
Diagonal Screen/Down Screen: One of their favorite actions out of Secondary is a screen-the-screener action. The Point Guard while choose a side as the trailer cuts underneath and the ball is swung to him. The rim-run forward then sets a back screen as they look at the guard for a layup before setting the down screen for the screener. They really like to run this in their smaller lineups to get #24 McLemore coming off the down screen. Ole Miss needed to switch the back screen here because there was so much space and they had to help too much to recover and take away the 3. They actually ran this on back-to-back plays and McLemore hit a 3 both times (both clips are below). We have to take him away from deep! Switch if you need to.
Iverson to Side Ballscreen: The point guard will dribble to the right wing and they set a screen for the ball side corner guard to run a little Iverson cut to the top of the key for a catch. They will then immediately in the wing and run into a ballscreen. They usually will slip this ballscreen and are really trying to clip the defender in an illegal screen type action. Iowa State does a good job of seeing it coming and switching it, but if the on-ball defender would have kept coming they probably could get an illegal screen call. Overall, this isn’t bad defense but you can’t allow the And-1. If you come help on the spin you need to be there to take it off of him or foul in a way that he can’t get the shot up.
Downscreen to Slip Ballscreen: This is the action we will see the most of today. They really like to get into these long run, slip ballscreens. They will set a downscreen for a guard and he will run into a high ballscreen that they have already decided to slip and pop into space. This is hard to guard because the best bet would be to switch it, but it can be hard to switch when there is no screen really being set. In this first clip, South Carolina tries to switch it but it gets communicated late which leads to an open 3 for a shooter.
Downscreen to Slip Ballscreen: In this clip they run the same action (and should have been called for an illegal screen). The on-ball defender for Iowa State wants to switch it, but the defender guarding the “screener” is already way out of position which leads to an easy layup.
Downscreen to Slip Ballscreen: This last clip of the slip ballscreen action shows South Carolina simply guarding #5 McCormick too far from the basket. They didn’t need to switch this one, but the defender gets beat to McCormick’s right hand because he is just too far out there. South Carolina then has to help at the rim which leads to a big alley-oop dunk.
They are primarily a half-court man-to-man defensive team. They will give a little bit more on-ball pressure than some teams, but isn’t overly aggressive. They mix in some token full-court man-to-man as well just to slow you down. In the half-court they will hard hedge the ballscreens but otherwise there isn’t much out of the ordinary that they do.
Keys to the Game
- NO LAYUPS!!! If we can take away their easy buckets at the rim we will be able to live with them making a few extra 3’s. We would rather make them shoot it from the perimeter than get to the paint.
- Allow Less than 10 Offensive Rebounds. This is critical! We have to be great on the glass and limit their second chance points.
- Limit Live Ball Turnovers. We have got to cut down on the live ball turnovers that lead to easy baskets. They are at their best when they can get out in the open floor and play fast.
- SCORE!!! The easiest way to slow down a transition team is by scoring the basketball. The more we make them take the ball out of bounds the tougher it will be for them to score.