#10 Auburn Men's Basketball 2018-2019 Preview

Auburn Tigers
2018-2019 Overall Rank: #10
Conference Rank: #3 SEC
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After three less than impressive seasons, Coach Bruce Pearl finally took Auburn to the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers did not just make their first tournament appearance since 2003; they also won a share of the SEC title with a 13-5 record. And that all was with a few injuries and suspensions lowering expectations as the season got underway. With a healthy team and the return of suspended Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley, this is an Auburn squad that can win another conference crown and make a push towards the Sweet Sixteen.
2017-18 Record: 26-8, 13-5
2017-18 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Bruce Pearl
Coach Record: 70-62 at Auburn, 301-161 overall
Key Departed Players:
Mustapha Heron, Guard, 16.4 ppg
Desean Murray, Forward, 10.1 ppg
Davion Mitchell, Guard, 3.7 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Bryce Brown, Senior, Guard, 15.9 ppg
Jared Harper, Junior, Guard, 13.2 ppg
Anfernee McLemore, Junior, Forward, 7.4 ppg
Chuma Okeke, Sophomore, Forward, 7.5 ppg
Malik Dunbar, Senior, Guard/Forward, 5.4 ppg
Horace Spencer, Senior, Forward, 4.7 ppg
Danjel Purifoy, Junior, Forward, dnp last season
Austin Wiley, Junior, Center, dnp last season
Key New Players:
Samir Doughty, Junior, Guard, Transfer from VCU
J’Von McCormick, Junior, Guard, JC Transfer
Myles Parker, Freshman, Forward
Jamal Johnson, Sophomore, Guard, Transfer from Memphis, not eligible
Purifoy, a 6-7 forward, averaged 11.5 points and 4.7 rebounds before missing last season. Wiley added 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds during his freshman campaign two years. Auburn will welcome them back, but Anfernee McLemore, Horace Spencer and Chuma Okeke will eat up plenty of frontcourt minutes too. McLemore led the team with 2.7 blocks per game last season and he can also stretch out the defense with his outside shooting ability. Okeke had a very productive freshman campaign, averaging 7.5 points and 5.8 rebounds and suddenly this team is absolutely loaded in the frontcourt. The backcourt returns starters Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Brown is the team’s most dynamic scoring threat and he will take a slew of three-pointers, but can attack the basket too. Harper added 13.2 points, but more importantly dished out 5.4 assists per game while only committing 2.1 turnovers. With the addition of VCU transfer Samir Doughty and junior college transfer J’Von McCormick, the backcourt now has some experienced depth as well. With so much talent and depth at his disposal, Coach Pearl should easily get this team back to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 81.9 (27th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 73.2 (195, 10)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.1 (258, 11)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.7 (102, 9)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.5 (35, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.7 (139, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 77.4 (18, 1)
Rebound Margin: 2.5 (92, 6)
Assists Per Game: 14.1 (135, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.1 (103, 7)
Madness 2019 NBA Draft Rankings:
#26 Austin Wiley