- Auburn and Georgia, both winless in league play, meet in an SEC game at Athens, Ga.
- Auburn five-star freshman recruit Sharife Cooper will play his second game since gaining NCAA eligibility
- Georgia has lost three straight after a 7-0 start – read below for a preview and our prediction
Auburn (6-6, 0-4 SEC) and Georgia (7-3, 0-3) are seeking their first SEC victory after rocky conference starts. Both have lost to Arkansas, their lone common opponent. Auburn fell to the Razorbacks by 12 as a 3.5-point home underdog and Georgia lost by 30 as a 9-point road underdog in its most recent game last Saturday.
Auburn vs Georgia Odds, Lines and Spread
|Auburn Tigers||+102||+1.5 (+112)||152.5 (Over-110)|
|Georgia Bulldogs||-120||-1.5 (-108)||152.5 (Under-110)|
Odds taken from FanDuel Jan. 12. The game is at 7 pm ET at Stegeman Coliseum
Auburn has won five of the last six in the series, sweeping the two meetings in 2017-18 and 2018-19 and running its winning streak to five before falling to the Bulldogs 65-55 in an upset loss at Athens last February. The Tigers were ranked No. 12 in the AP poll before that game.
The Tigers have been under the total in eight of the last 12 games and are 0-3-2 against the spread in the last five. They are 2-4 away from home, including a pair of spread losses in the season-opening Fort Myers Tip-Off. Georgia has been over in six of nine games on the board.
There’s a New Sharife in Town
Auburn was buoyed by the addition of freshman point guard Sharife Cooper, a McDonald’s All-American as a high school senior, in his season debut in a 94-90 loss to Alabama. Cooper started and made an immediate impact with 26 points and nine assists. Both were team highs.
— Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) January 9, 2021
Cooper missed the first 11 games (and according to reports 72 practices) after the NCAA notified Auburn three days before the start of the season that his eligibility was under review. That decision occurred the day after the school announced a self-imposed ban on postseason play in the wake of an investigation of former assistant coach Chuck Person.
Cooper, 6-foot and 180, averaged 30.6 points, 7.8 assists and 3.6 steals per game as a senior at McEachern (Ga.) Hjgh. He should help Auburn cut down its turnover rate, which at 17.2 per game was 318th among 338 Division I teams.
“We obviously have been working to try and build the program around him the last couple years knowing he would be coming in,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “It’s great to have him back. You could tell how hard Sharife has worked to stay right and stay ready and what a dynamic player he is.”
Statement from Coach Crean on K.D. Johnson:
“We’re extremely excited to have K.D. eligible. Probably the only people more excited than me are K.D. and his mother, Jada…
— Lance McCurley (@lancemccurley) January 12, 2021
Georgia also has added a top freshman guard. K.D. Johnson is expected to play after posting on Instagram that he gained his eligibility Monday. Johnson missed the first 10 games of the season because of academic issues. He was the Bulldogs’ highest-rated recruit after averaging 26.7 points and 7.4 assists at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va.
Both Teams Feature Very Balanced Attacks
Georgia is the only one of the 345 NCAA Division I schools to have six players averaging double figures in scoring, and Auburn is one of 24 teams with five players averaging 10 points or more, including Cooper after his first game.
Georgia is led by 6-8 sophomore post player Toumani Camara and 5-10 sophomore point guard Sahvir Wheeler, who have four double-doubles apiece. Camara is averaging 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds and Wheeler is averaging 13.7 points and 7.4 assists. Wheeler is sixth in Division I and first among Power 6 players in assists per game.
— mj (@MikalJ_) December 5, 2020
Mitigating the Bulldogs’ loss in Arkansas was the fact that Camara was in foul trouble most of the game. He picked up his second foul less than five minutes into the game and picked up three fouls in a six-minute, 58-second span of the second half. He had 15 points in 16 minutes.
Auburn freshman guard Justin Powell also had a 26-point, nine-assist game earlier this season. He has missed the last two games because of a head injury suffered in a two-point loss at Texas A&M on Jan. 2. His status for Georgia is unknown.
Each Team Stepping Up in Class
It is a bit hard to get a read on Georgia and Auburn entering the meat of SEC play since neither has played what could be considered a taxing nonconference schedule.
Georgia won its fist seven games, its best start since Terry Fair’s 1982-83 NCAA Final Four team, but the victories came against a very soft group of. non-league foes that included Florida A&M, North Georgia and Samford.
Big time drive from Sahvir Wheeler to cut the LSU lead to 1.
His burst is elite and he has shown some fantastic court vision with 11 assists on the night. pic.twitter.com/FmbWRZJ2ix
— Aram Cannuscio (@AC__Hoops) January 7, 2021
According to KenPom, the Bulldogs played the 278th most difficult non-league schedule in NCAA Division I, the 14th easiest among Power 6 conferences. Among SEC teams, only Texas A&M, Arkansas and Vanderbilt were less tested.
SEC Network analyst Dane Bradshaw critiqued Georgia’s offense after the blowout at Arkansas, in which the Bulldogs made 5-of-19 3-point attempts.
“It’s imperative for Georgia to establish their identity offensively,” Bradshaw said. “They spread you out to get 3-point shots, yet they don’t have great 3-point shooters. Their inside presence is Sahvir Wheeler driving it in for two or Camara going inside for two.”
Auburn’s nonconference schedule was ranked 183rd by KenPom. Only Kentucky, Missouri, Alabama and Florida played a more difficult group outside the league.
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