How to Watch (and bet)
Date: Wednesday, 12/21/22
Tip-Off Time: 6:00 pm PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: 950 AM
Location: Seattle, Washington
DraftKings Betting Line: Washington Huskies +4.5
Auburn Tigers 2022-23 Statistics:
Points For per Game: 72.7 (123rd)
Points Against per Game: 62.2 (37th)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 108.6 (54th)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 89.7 (15th)
Strength of Schedule: 121st
Auburn’s Key Players:
G- Wendell Green, Jr. 5’11, 175: 12.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.5 apg, 40.4% FG, 28.6% 3pt, 80.0% FT
We’ll see how much Green can play after he was limited with an ankle injury on Sunday against USC. He has been in the top-100 nationally in assist rate each of the past 3 seasons so he’s a critical piece for ensuring Auburn can move the ball. He’s shooting a career low from 3-pt range but a career high on 2’s so far. If he can’t go it gives the Huskies a huge boost.
G-KD Johnson, Sr. 6’0, 185: 10.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.6 apg, 36.1% FG, 27.9% 3pt, 82.1% FT
As a freshman at Georgia Johnson shot nearly 40% from 3 but he has been below 30% last year and so far this one. Given that kind of efficiency he fits the definition of a volume shooter who is at his best when he’s able to get to the rim where he’s a great free throw shooter and adept at drawing fouls. Despite his size he’s also the best of Auburn’s perimeter defense getting steals.
G-Allen Flanigan, Sr. 6’6, 220: 8.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.7 apg, 41.4% FG, 33.3% 3pt, 74.1% FT
Last year Flanigan had a down offensive season but his shooting splits are up across the board so far this year. He also has more than doubled his career high block rate so far and has gotten it done on the wing. He’s also an above average defensive rebounder.
F- Jaylin Williams, Sr. 6’8, 230: 9.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 47.2% FG, 39.3% 3pt, 61.9% FT
Williams lost his starting role a season ago when Auburn had eventual #3 overall pick Jabari Smith. He is a key do-everything cog at the power forward spot shooting by far a career best from 3-pt range so far as well as putting up above average steal and block rates. Expect him to be the primary option guarding Keion Brooks Jr. for the Huskies.
F- Johni Broome, Jr. 6’10, 235: 11.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 3.0 bpg, 49.5% FG, 16.7% 3pt, 51.4% FT
The transfer from Morehead State is one of the bounciest athletes in the sport. He’s 9th nationally in block rate after finishing 7th last year so there’s no question he’s an absolutely elite shot blocker. He also has finished in the top-50 nationally in offensive rebound rate each of the last 3 years. He is going to be a big problem for Washington’s defense getting second chances against the zone.
Washington begins its epic 5-game gauntlet hosting the Auburn Tigers tonight. It is the first time since 2016 that Washington is hosting a power conference team at home in a non-conference matchup when UW beat TCU 92-67. It’s the return game from November 2019 when the Huskies were routed 88-66 by the Tigers and then famously had their bus catch on fire on the way back to the airport.
Auburn began the season 8-0 but have had a pair of losses recently to Memphis on a neutral site and at USC in their most recent game on Sunday. That puts them at 2-2 against teams in top-100 at KenPom where Washington is currently ranked 90th. Health at the point guard spot is critical for both teams. Auburn’s Wendell Green was questionable against USC and only played 12 minutes of ineffective time after seeming to re-aggravate the injury. Meanwhile Washington has hoped to get back Noah Williams for this stretch but it seems more likely that he would return against USC with over an additional week of rest.
The key for Auburn so far has been their defense anchored by Morehead State transfer Johni Broome. The Tigers rank in the top-40 nationally in opponent 2-pt%, opponent 3-pt%, opponent FT%, block rate, and steal rate. They don’t have any weaknesses on that end of the floor. Broome in particular is a pogo stick who is the primary reason Auburn is 2nd in the country in block rate. That’s a strength for both teams as Washington is 5th in that stat nationally although surely worse since the season-ending injury to center Franck Kepnang.
The last time that Auburn played an elite defense was against the #10 Northwestern defense and Auburn won that game 43-42. However Washington despite having a good D is not nearly as elite. What should play out as true though is that Auburn will struggle from the 3-point line. The Tigers are 328th nationally shooting 28.9% from deep while the Husky defense is 9th nationally keeping opponents to 26.2%. If Auburn ends up shooting closer to 40% from 3-point range then the Huskies have no shot.
That means Washington needs it to come down to the battle in the paint and in particular Johni Broome versus Braxton Meah. Broome is shooting 7/29 on midrange jumpers so hopefully the Husky zone can convince him to try that free throw line shot rather than going all the way to the rim.
Ideally the Huskies would have a great crowd to help them in a tough non-conference game. And maybe they will but circumstances couldn’t be much worse to set up for an underwhelming situation. Not only is it winter break so a lot of the students have gone home but there are also several inches of snow on the ground. Plus you’ve got people like me currently sick with the flu and so not going in person.
Put all of that together and I don’t think Washington is quite able to get it done. Although as we saw with the OT win against Saint Mary’s, the Huskies’ upside if they have everything go right is good enough to come away with a victory. I just don’t know that it happens without having a healthy Noah Williams in the lineup
Max’s Record this Year: 8-4 Straight Up, 6-5-1 Against The Spread
Washington Huskies- 55, Auburn Tigers- 64