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Auburn at Vanderbilt
When and Where: Saturday, Feb. 16, Memorial Gymnasium, Nashville, Tenn., noon p.m. EST
Looking to get back to .500 in SEC play, Auburn faces a challenging bid to avoid a third straight loss Saturday when it tries to win at Vanderbilt for the first time in 19 years.
Tigers out of AP Top 25 and looking for 40-minute effort
Auburn (16-8, 5-6 SEC) has been a streaky team of late, canceling out a three-game losing streak with three straight wins before the back-to-back defeats that preceded this game.
✅ 1977-78 All-American
✅ 4x All-SEC performer
✅ Auburn's all-time leading rebounder
— Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) February 15, 2019
Last year’s conference co-champions are all but mathematically certain not to repeat that feat as the Tigers are six games back of No. 1 Tennessee and in a four-way tie for seventh. Wednesday night’s 60-55 home loss to Mississippi was Auburn’s worst offensive effort of the season in terms of points and overall shooting (32.7 percent).
“We’re not going to panic. We’re going to grind,” coach Bruce Pearl told the school’s official website after being swept by the Rebels. “This is a really good league. These are really good teams, and we’re going to focus on the next one.”
The bright spot for Pearl was the play of Chuma Okeke, who had a career-high 23 points to go with 11 rebounds. The sophomore forward has recorded three of his four double-doubles this season in his last five games, averaging 13.8 points and 10.0 rebounds while shooting 55.6 percent.
Pearl, though, could also use leading scorer Bryce Brown getting back on track. The senior is averaging 16.3 points overall but only 11.0 in his last three games while shooting 35.3 percent (12 for 34). Brown had 25 points in last season’s win over Vanderbilt, hitting 5 of 7 from 3-point range and 8 of 12 shots overall.
Auburn is 1-5 in true road games and looking to snap a three-game road skid in conference play. Last season’s 93-81 win over the Commodores snapped a 13-game losing streak in the series for the Tigers, who have dropped 10 straight in Nashville since an 86-80 victory in 2000.
‘Dores look to play spoiler, notch first SEC win
Vanderbilt’s season of misery continued with its 12th consecutive defeat Wednesday night, a 66-57 setback at Florida.
Derrick Byars is your 2019 Commodores’ Allstate® SEC Basketball Legend! He'll be honored at this year's SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena.
— Vanderbilt Men's Basketball (@VandyMBB) February 15, 2019
Freshman Aaron Nesmith scored a season-high 26 points for the Commodores (9-15, 0-11), but they moved another loss closer to matching their longest losing streak since a 14-game slide bridging the 1934-35 and 1935-36 seasons.
“In the first half, we had a big spurt, and we came out in the second half turning it over,” Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew told The Associated Press. “It seemed like a little gas came out of us.”
It has been a trying season for Drew and Vanderbilt, which was essentially lost after five games when highly touted freshman Darius Garland suffered a season-ending injury and since declared for the NBA Draft. Nesmith and fellow freshman Simi Shittu are both in double figures at 10.9 and 11.7 points per game, respectively, and Shittu leads all SEC freshmen with 7.0 rebounds per game.
Commodores leading scorer Saben Lee (13.5 ppg) has also picked up his game, averaging 15.9 points in his last eight games while shooting 50.6 percent.
Vanderbilt has lost six straight at home and 14 of its last 15 conference games dating back to last season.
- 7-3-1 ATS in its last 11 games as a home underdog between 7-12.5 points.
- 10-4 ATS in its last 14 games as an underdog between 7-12.5 points.
- 5-0 ATS in its last five home games vs. Auburn.
- The under is 9-3-1 in its last 13 games vs. above-.600 teams.
- The under is 8-3 in its last 11 games vs. SEC opponents.
- The under is 5-2 in its last seven games vs. Auburn.
- 3-12 ATS in its last 15 games following an ATS loss.
- 1-6 ATS in its last seven road games.
- 1-9 ATS in its last 10 games vs. Vanderbilt.
- The under is 4-1 in its last five games as a favorite between 7-12.5 points.
- The under is 4-1 in its last five road games vs. Vanderbilt.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
This is a game where Auburn has to crawl before it walks and walk before it runs. The good news is this is not a trap game since the Tigers host Arkansas on Wednesday after this contest. But Bruce Pearl’s team has to get rid of the negative energy after those back-to-back losses, and the Commodores are still a team the Tigers cannot let linger.
The hedge here is Auburn starts taking those small steps to get back on track and does enough to win without covering. This line has swung 1.5 points in Vanderbilt’s favor to make the Tigers an eight-point favorite, so hopefully, you got in early.
Prediction: Pick: Vanderbilt +9.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Offensively, Vanderbilt inspires little confidence to believe in the over given it has scored over 70 points just three times in conference play, and one of those games went to overtime. The Commodores will try to ugly this game up with their forwards crashing the offensive boards, and it does not feel like Drew’s team has enough firepower to keep up.
Again, this line has moved significantly in the overnight, dropping to 147. If you grabbed this number early, be happy. The new number still feels like a bit of a stretch with Vanderbilt’s inconsistent offense, but it is definitely more reachable.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 149.5 points
Full-Game Prop Bet
The Commodores have not scored 70 points in their last six games and have topped that mark three times in their 11 SEC defeats. Though Auburn is struggling, it is not struggling that bad Vanderbilt will be able to reach this number.
Prediction: Pick: Vanderbilt UNDER 69.5 points
Half-Time Side Pick
Vanderbilt has led at halftime just once in its six SEC home games and been down seven or more in three of the last four at Memorial Gym. Auburn had led after 20 minutes in its prior four games before trailing by six last time against Ole Miss, but that feels more like a specific matchup than a trend.
Prediction: Pick: Auburn -4.5
Half-Time Total Bet
The Commodores have been a sticky first-half team — they have cleared 70 points just once in SEC play and have played between 60 and 69 in all but two of their 11 losses. Auburn has more fluctuations, but with the expectation Vanderbilt will keep this reasonably close, the under is the play.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 69.5 points
Half-Time Prop Prediction
A confidence pick in the under, with the Tigers expected to keep the Commodores in check by hounding Lee defensively. Vanderbilt has scored 35 or more in the first half just twice in its last seven games, and Auburn’s ability to force turnovers should help here.
Prediction: Pick: Vanderbilt UNDER 32.5 points