Auburn coach Bruce Pearl has gotten the attention of sophomore guard Mustapha Heron, and that’s good news for the Tigers as they play Dayton on Wednesday in their first true road game of the season. Heron, who averaged 15.2 points and 6.1 rebounds as a freshman, started this campaign with 29 points in three games before exploding for 53 in his last two contests.
“I yelled at him more this week, like a lot more. And I was even mean to him,’’ Pearl told reporters after Heron scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Friday’s 119-85 victory over Winthrop. “He did come to the house for Thanksgiving, and he’s not a turkey eater. It’s challenging if you’re not a turkey eater on Thanksgiving, but he went with some ham.’’ Auburn has scored more than 100 points twice this season and is shooting 50.3 percent from the field - one of 41 teams nationally entering Wednesday making at least half their shots. The Flyers are coming off a 73-60 victory over Akron on Saturday and put their 16-game winning streak at UD Arena on the line. Dayton has won six straight and 15 of its last 18 versus the SEC, including two wins last season - 77-72 at Alabama and 68-63 over Vanderbilt.
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ABOUT AUBURN (4-1): Junior guard Bryce Brown scores a team-best 18.8 per game after sinking six 3-pointers in the second half en route to recording 21 points versus Winthrop. Heron improved his averages to 16.4 points and 5.2 rebounds, while junior forward Desean Murray averages 12.2 points and 8.8 rebounds after totaling 12 points and eight rebounds Friday. Sophomore guard Jared Harper (10.6 points, team-high 5.2 assists) has recorded seven assists in three of his last four games.
ABOUT DAYTON (3-2): Senior guard Darrell Davis averages a team-high 20 points per game, reaching double figures in every contest this season, and is shooting 49.3 percent from the field while 17-for-32 from 3-point range. Junior forward Josh Cunningham (16.0 points) leads the Atlantic 10 Conference in rebounding at 10.2 per game after recording 20 points and 16 boards Saturday. Junior forward Xeyrius Williams (8.8 points, 5.3 assists, team-high 4.3 assists) missed the Akron game because of back spasms.
1. Tigers sophomore F Anfernee McLemore (9.2 points, 4.4 rebounds) is second among SEC players with 2.8 blocks per game.
2. Auburn won all three of its true non-conference road games last season.
3. Dayton has won all four meetings, including 73-63 in the 2012 Charleston Classic in the last encounter.
PREDICTION: Dayton 72, Auburn 71