Red-hot Auburn has won seven straight and faces a big test Tuesday as it travels to take on non-conference foe Murray State, which owns one of the top home-court advantages in the country. The Tigers are coming off a narrow road win over Middle Tennessee on Saturday, while the Racers are looking to improve to 98-15 in non-conference contests played at the CFSB Center - their home for the last 20 seasons.
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl has a balanced offensive team, with four starters averaging double figures while the fifth - sophomore forward Anfernee McLemore - checks in at 9.4 points per game. The guard combo of Bryce Brown (16.3 points) and Mustapha Heron (15.9) leads the way, but the third starting guard, Jared Harper (11.8, 5.4 assists) may be the most important member of the trio. Auburn’s defense has been solid all season, limiting opponents to 71.7 points per game, but it will be tested by a Racers team that is averaging 82.7. Murray State also has four starters scoring in double digits - including Terrell Miller Jr. (16.7 points) and Jonathan Stark (15.2), who have hit 19 and 24 3-pointers, respectively.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, No TV
ABOUT AUBURN (9-1): One of the areas in which Auburn has improved in most this season is on the boards, as the team has outrebounded its opponent in all 10 contests - something it did a total of 10 times last campaign. Auburn leads the SEC and ranks 10th in the nation with a rebound margin of 10.3 per game and is second in the league and 21st in the country with its average of 41.3 rebounds. It hasn’t just been one or two players either, as Desean Murray leads the team with 7.7 rebounds and McLemore is next at 6.8, but five different members are averaging more than 4.5 and seven are grabbing at least two.
ABOUT MURRAY STATE (7-2): Coach Matt McMahon is looking for more consistency from his team offensively, especially in its shooting, after the Racers went from their worst performance of the season to their best in the span of one game. Murray State hit just 19 field goals on 35 percent shooting in a loss to Saint Louis on Dec. 12, then hit 18 in the first half alone while shooting 62 percent in a win over Marist on Saturday. In the Racers’ only other loss this season - against Middle Tennessee in early November - they scored 44 points to hold a two-point halftime lead, only to manage just 23 in the second half and lose by five.
1. Auburn freshman F Chuma Okeke is averaging 8.8 points overall this season and 11.4 on the road.
2. Miller went 8-for-8 from the field against Marist, marking only the sixth time since 1998 a Murray State player has been perfect on at least eight field-goal attempts in a game.
3. McLemore leads the SEC and ranks sixth in the nation with his average of 3.6 blocks.
PREDICTION: Murray State 78, Auburn 75