AUBURN, Ala (EETV) – The Auburn Men’s basketball team won its first showing of the season on Wednesday in an exhibition game against Alabama-Huntsville, 87-69.
Head Coach Bruce Pearl showed his team’s depth in the game, cycling through 10 players in his lineup just less than four minutes into the game. That number was bumped up to 11 before halftime. Of the team’s 87 total points, 53 points were scored by players off the bench.
The starting five for Auburn was Wendell Green Jr. at point guard, Zep Jasper at the two guard, Chris Moore at the small forward, freshman Yohan Traore at power forward with Dylan Cardwell holding it down at center.
Pearl did note that the starting lineup is subject to change, due to the fact that the game against UAH was just an exhibition.
Let’s start in the backcourt. Green Jr. is the team's top returning scorer (12.0 ppg) and top playmaker (172 assists). He came off the bench as a sixth-man last year but looked extremely comfortable in his new starting role in Wednesday night’s contest. Green Jr. was the leader of the offense, which is something Coach Pearl had emphasized this offseason. He found his shot in the second half, sinking a couple three-point shots, as the Preseason Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award candidate finished with 12 points.
Freshman backup point guard Tre Donaldson had a complete game, scoring 10 points and pulling in seven rebounds in just 17 minutes of action. Donaldson, a former two-sport recruit who decided not to play football at Auburn this fall, had some flashes of strong play.
Senior Zep Jasper seemed to pick up right where he left off at the end of last season, supplying the team with much needed buckets offensively and consistently delivering strong defensive performances. Jasper finished with four points and two assists.
KD Johnson came off the bench at the shooting guard. He struggled to find his shot but managed to be a positive for the Tigers in other categories, finishing with a plus/minus of +23, the highest on the team.
Chris Moore seemed to be the biggest eye opener in the Auburn starting lineup. He had a complete game, helping the team on both offense and defense.
SF Allen Flanigan has started at Auburn for the last couple of seasons, but he has shown varying degrees of consistency over his career. Pearl noted that over the last two weeks, Flannigan has had “the best two weeks of practice in his career.” With a series of high-flying dunks and swift moves to the basket made by the senior last night, Pearl’s two-week assessment appeared spot on.
For Auburn’s frontcourt, the four-headed monster of Johni Broome, Yohan Traore, Jaylin Williams, and Dylan Cardwell got off to a slow start, but made up for early mistakes as the game went on.
Johni Broome, a member of the preseason Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award Watchlist, was working hard all night to get comfortable scoring under the basket. He was 2-of-4 shooting with six points, going 2-of-7 from the free throw line. Broome is a transfer from Morehead State, where he averaged a double-double last season with 16.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per contest.
Five-Star Freshman Yohan Traore played 22 minutes, scoring nine points on 4-of-6 shooting. Traore was primarily effective on defense, as he was the head of the full-court press Coach Pearl ran all game.
Senior forward Jaylin Williams dealt with foul trouble early, so his minutes were limited, but he made the most of his time on the floor. He was the team’s leading scorer with 15 points, shooting perfect from the field.
Dylan Cardwell had a tough time getting going, but as always, the big man’s energy, hustle, and leadership was on display as helped the Tigers get a lead early with no sign of turning back.
Auburn opens regular season nonconference play next Monday, November 7th, against George Mason at 7:00pm in Neville Arena.