Auburn (13-0, 1-0 SEC) opened its 2019-20 SEC schedule with an 80-68 road win over Mississippi State. Senior guard J’Von McCormick led the Tigers in scoring with 28 points. State took an 18-9 lead midway through the first half but Auburn would go on to lead at halftime 29-24. In the second half MSU pulled to within 2 points of Auburn twice but the Tigers would slowly build a larger and larger lead to coast to the win. Bruce Pearl has quickly built Auburn into a contender. The Tigers are currently second in the league in scoring offense (82.0 ppg) and No. 1 on the SEC in scoring margin (+16.2). The Tigers also shine in the SEC in rebounding offense (1st, 42.2 rpg), 3-point shooting defense (3rd, 28.7%), and blocked shots (1st, 6.4 bpg). Auburn’s one glaring weakness is at the free throw line where the Tigers make just 65.7%.
Vanderbilt (8-5, 0-0 SEC) played its final pre-conference game on Saturday falling to SMU 92-81 in Nashville. That was tied at 40 at halftime. Vandy seemingly had taken control of the game with 5 minutes remaining leading 72-62. SMU, however, cut the Vandy lead to 75-69 with 49 seconds remaining. The Mustangs then tied the game on a late three to force overtime. The Mustangs the won the overtime period 13-4. Vanderbilt is the best 3-point shooting team in the SEC hitting on 38.3 percent of shots. Vanderbilt forward Aaron Nesmith is the leading scorer in the SEC (23.4 ppg). He is also the most accurate from 3-point range in the league hitting on 51.4% of his attempts. The 6-foot-6 sophomore has made 56 3-point shots this season. Vandy has four other players that have made at least 10 three pointers. Vandy’s weakness is defense. The Commodores are 12th in the league in scoring defense allowing 72.6 points a game. Vanderbilt ranks last in the SEC in both 3-point defense (37%) and field goal defense (45%).
Auburn should be the clear favorite especially playing at home. Vandy looks a little improved over last season but they are a couple years from beating a team like Auburn.
Auburn 84, Vanderbilt 67
Wednesday‘s game tips off at 9:00 p.m. ET. TV: SEC Network.