After a 2-game pit stop in Fort Myers, the Tigers finally made their way to Orlando, where they were originally supposed to play in the Orlando Invitational over Thanksgiving. After ESPN and Orlando suspended all games there, Auburn had to find an alternative solution for a multi-team event and ended up in Fort Myers to start the season. But a late addition to the schedule still brought Auburn to Orlando that season.
Auburn will face UCF in the first real street game of the season and in the third and final game of this road trip to Florida. This marks the start of a home and home streak as Johnny Dawkins will be bringing his knights to Auburn next season. This will be the start of the season for UCF, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, but due to COVID issues in Oklahoma, the Sooners did not make the trip last weekend.
After an OT win against Saint Joe on Thursday, Auburn wants to get back on its feet after a 90-67 loss to # 1 Gonzaga on Friday.
Looking at UCF’s initial non-conference schedule, one wonders what would happen if the soccer team planned to do this: Oklahoma (canceled), Auburn, Michigan, Michigan, Florida State. There would be no complaints about this schedule. Oh, sorry, this is basketball.
The Knights were heartbreakingly ricocheted off the 2019 NCAA tournament by Duke in the round of 16, but took a step without a tackle fall in their first year. They were 16-14 last season, finishing 8th. Place in the American Conference.
UCF was voted 8th again at the conference but is the third straight opponent at Auburn to question a key player in the week that the season started.
Sophomore forward C. . J. . Walker (# 21) was cleared for the game by the NCAA last week after moving home from Oregon. The Orlando native was a top 30 recruit in several recruiting companies but never found his stand in Eugene as he averaged just 4 PPG in his only year with the Ducks. Walker hopes to be on the right track near home.
Walker’s new signing was massive as Collin Smith, who was scorer and rebounder again last year, won’t play this year for health reasons.
Smith’s loss means the Knights won’t have last year’s top four, including former Alabama player Dazon Ingram.
Senior Guard Brandon Mahan (# 13) is the Knights who returns the top scorer at 7. 5 PPG. Mahan is from Birmingham and started his career at Texas A&M. He is good at getting to the edge but wants to improve his 3-point shooting this year as he only shot 29. 8% remotely last season.
Sophomore guard Dre Fuller Jr. . (# 24) struggled with a knee injury last season and missed 10 games but returned to the Knights after an average of 6. 3 PPG last season.
The teams only shot 42% of 3 against UCF last season and last season only 31%. However, they were only 68 on average. 9 PPG offensive. This game will be a great test of Auburn’s great men as the knights are based on great men and a tough defense in color.
JUCO transfer Moses Bol (# 33) will make his UCF debut tonight after playing a red shirt last year. Bol is 7-1 and a cousin of the late great Manute Bol. Bol is much more known for his defensive play.
Senior Avery Diggs (# 5) is 6-11, 245 pounds and is probably the biggest threat for UCF to get off and take a 3-pointer. His role would increase with Smith’s absence.
Jaylin Williams and JT Thor got into nasty trouble early Friday and couldn’t get started. Williams was the star on Thursday with 18 points and 11 rebounds and appears to be on his feet again after being goalless against the Zags.
Devan Cambridge struggled a little in his first two games this year and tried to change that in this game. He was 3-14 of 3 in the 2 games at Fort Myers. I’m looking for Devan to have a much better game tonight.
Allen Flanigan hit a career high of 20 points on Friday and his offensive play appears to have taken a step forward in his second season. Flanigan leads the team with an average of 16 PPG this year. His free-throw shooting looks a lot better in the first two games at 8-10, after being only 46% free-throw shooter last season.
Auburn has two games behind them while UCF has yet to play one. Depending on how you see it, it’s good that the Tigers have some gaming experience. But the Tigers didn’t have a UCF feature film as they haven’t been on trial this year.
This is honestly a mistake for me, but I’m going to take Auburn with me on this one.
Auburn Tigers Men’s Basketball, University of Central Florida, Basketball, UCF Knights Football, American Athletic Conference, Bruce Pearl
World News – USA – Auburn at UCF Game Preview and Open Thread
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