Fresh off an impressive 73-60 road victory over Dayton, Auburn opens a three-game homestand on Sunday with its second consecutive matchup with an Atlantic 10 team as George Mason comes to town. The Patriots came close to losing their third straight game on Wednesday but fought back from a four-point deficit in the final 7.1 seconds to defeat James Madison 76-72.
This will be the first meeting between the Tigers and Patriots but Auburn is 17-9 all-time against teams from the current Atlantic 10 Conference, while George Mason is 5-5 against teams now in the SEC. For Auburn, the victory over Dayton extended its winning streak to three and proved to be by far its best defensive performance of the season. The Tigers limited the Flyers to just 36.2 percent shooting from the field and 30 percent from behind the arc, and Auburn continued its improved play on the glass - earning the rebounding edge (38-32) as it has done in all six games after doing so just 10 times all of last season. Junior forward Desean Murray tops the team with 8.3 rebounds per game and through Friday, the Tigers sat 27th in the nation with an average rebounding margin of 9.3 per game.
TV: 3 p.m. ET, SEC Network Plus
ABOUT GEORGE MASON (4-3): The Patriots are 4-1 when they hit at least 40 percent of their shots and they head into their matchup with Auburn off their best shooting performance of the season, as they posted season highs in field goal percentage (49.1) and 3-point field goal percentage (56.3) against James Madison. Freshman Goanar Mar is averaging 15.0 points per game, second best on the team, and he was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and 5-for-5 at the free-throw line for 14 points against James Madison. Junior Otis Livingston II topped the Patriots with 17 points and a career-best eight assists, while Jaire Grayer had 16 points (4-of-7 from beyond the arc) and a team-best 10 rebounds - the sixth time this season he has pulled down at least eight rebounds.
ABOUT AUBURN (5-1): The Tigers are coming off a strong defensive effort and the team needed it as the offense had its lowest-scoring output of the season, failing to score at least 80 points for the second time. Auburn shot just 38.6 percent but sophomore Mustapha Heron hit seven of his 13 shots for a game-high 21 points, his third straight 20-point effort, while adding seven rebounds. Starting guards Bryce Brown (4-of-12 from the field) and Jared Harper (2-of-9) struggled to hit their shots against Dayton but freshman Chuma Okeke sparked the club in the first half, coming off the bench to post 13 of his 15 points and six of his eight rebounds before the break.
1. With a win over George Mason, Auburn would notch a victory against the 10th different team in the Atlantic 10.
2. Auburn’s three-game homestand will be its longest since the first three games of the 2016-17 season.
3. Heron hadn’t hit 20 points in back-to-back games before this season.
PREDICTION: Auburn 82, George Mason 75