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Scouting Notes: Auburn



Indiana basketball vs Auburn
A deep dive into Auburn and some of the challenges it could give the Indiana basketball program in Saturday's matchup. (Photo by Zach Bland/Auburn Tigers)

Indiana basketball enters the final stretch of non-conference play after a two-game Big Ten slate this past week. Now, it heads to Atlanta for a matchup with Auburn.

Auburn comes in with a 5-2 record led by Bruce Pearl in his 10th season on the sidelines. Auburn’s two losses have come at a neutral site in the season-opener to Baylor by six and then on the road the last time out to Appalachian State by five. The Tigers come in as one of the most efficient teams on both ends of the court. They rank 33rd in offensive efficiency with a 114.1 rating. They also have a defensive efficiency rating of 93.1, rated 14th in the country. Overall, Auburn is rated 17th in the KenPom ratings.

Here is a deep dive into some of the challenges Auburn could give the Indiana basketball program.

Key Players

The offense runs through 6-foot-10 forward Johni Broome (18.3 ppg). He has the third-highest usage rate in the NCAA at 35.7 percent and is extremely effective in all areas. Broome is a smooth lefty who can play at the 15-foot area and in as well as score effectively in the transition game. Broome is an athletic forward who has great touch and footwork. On the block, Broome isn’t going to take a lot of time with his post moves — he’s going to get the ball in his hands, survey the defense and attack. He does a great job getting deep position in the post and turning over his right shoulder to finish at the rim. Broome has a good ability to catch at the elbow and put the ball on the floor, finishing through any contact at the rim. If he doesn’t have the ball in his hands to start the possession, he’s most likely going to finish the possession with it, especially with his skill on the glass. Broome is second in the SEC in offensive rebound percentage at 15.0 percent. Broome does have the ability to step out on the perimeter but he’s a very inconsistent shooter for the volume he takes. He attempts 2.1 3s per game, but is shooting just 26.7 percent. He has missed his last nine 3s, spanning four games — he’s 4-of-15 on the season. Defensively, Broome is a terrific shot blocker and overall defensive player. He has ranked in the top-10 nationally in block percentage in the past two seasons and also ranks fifth in the SEC this season in defensive rating. The bigs for Indiana basketball will have its hands full and need to be able to defend without fouling as Broome ranks sixth in the country drawing nearly nine fouls per game.

Aden Holloway is a freshman guard who brings a lot of pop to the backcourt. He’s been inconstant throughout the start of the season and is shooting just 19.4 percent across his last four games. Holloway is going to seek out as many 3s as he can. 61.4 percent of his shot attempts are coming from the perimeter this year — whether it’s off or on the ball. Holloway is an athletic guard but he struggles at times to finish through contact at the rim and will often times settle for difficult or contested looks. Holloway is going to look for his shot first then for his teammates second, but is still a good playmaker. He ranks in the top 10 in assist rate in the SEC and is only averaging 1.3 turnovers per game. Indiana needs to force Holloway off of the three-point line as much as possible and force him to be a driver and to try and finish over the length of IU’s front court in the paint.

Chad Baker-Mazara comes off of the bench but is a very versatile wing at 6-foot-7 who does a lot for Auburn. Baker-Mazara is averaging 8.3 points in 19.4 minutes a game. He is a lanky and athletic player who likes to make plays off of the dribble. Baker-Mazara likes to utilize a variety of ball handling moves to break down his defender. Typically he likes to get into the 15-foot area and look first for his teammates and then to score. He a high-volume three-point shooter for the minutes he plays but is only shooting 23.5 percent on 2.4 attempts per game. He shoots 56.5 percent on 2s, however. Baker-Mazara is a versatile defender because of his length and athleticism and can guard numerous positions.

In the front court with Broome is Jaylin Williams. He is a versatile, 6-foot-8 and 235-pound forward. Williams loves to play physical on both ends of the floor and is someone that makes the most of his overall skillset. He’s not going to get any plays run for him but he’s a terrific rebounder and uses his high motor to create extra opportunities for the Tigers. Williams has the ability to make some plays off of the dribble and plays with a high IQ.

Denver Jones is another tough guard who transferred in from Florida International after averaging 20.1 points per game a season ago. He’s tremendous with the ball in his hands and has good size and strength to finish at all three levels. This season, however, he’s been most effective from the perimeter, shooting 36.4 percent from three on 3.1 attempts per game. Eight of his 14 made field goals this year have been 3s. He’s just 6-of-17 on 2s this year. Because of Jones’ physical nature, he will actively seek out contact if he gets in the paint — that contributes to his low efficiency at times. He’s a career 86.9 percent free throw shooter on 4.5 attempts per game.

Tre Donaldson is an explosive guard off of the bench who provides a great spark scoring the ball. He’s averaging 7.3 points while shooting 50 percent from the floor. He has a strong and physical build and can brush off defenders on the perimeter. Donaldson is shooting 43.8 percent from three on 2.3 attempts per game and uses that to open up the rest of his game. He’s not someone who is going to actively seek out contact but he has great body control when contact is made. He has the athleticism to finish through defenders at the rim.

Dylan Cardwell is another member of the rotation that Indiana will see a lot of on Saturday. He’s a 6-foot-11 and 250-pound forward who is a big time bruiser in the paint. He’s a physical rebounder and shot blocker that will assert himself in the paint immediately when he enters the game. Cardwell averages over six fouls per 40 minutes and he’s not going to be shy with his body. Indiana needs to be ready for physical play when he’s in the game.

More: Indiana Basketball Game Preview: Auburn – key storylines, injury report, how to watch

Key Tendencies

Offensively, Auburn is going to run and look to use its defense to get out in transition. When they aren’t in the open floor, it’s going to be an inside-out action for the Tigers. Auburn is averaging 37.7 points per game in the paint per game — 48 percent of its total points per game. Despite that, it doesn’t mean Auburn is shy from firing away from the outside. The Tigers attempt 23.1 3s per game, making just 29.6 from distance. Only 26.2 percent of their total points come from three — ranked 266th nationally. Whatever shot Auburn misses, however, is cleaned up by its forwards. The Tigers rank 17th in offensive rebound percentage and grab over 14 offensive rebounds per game. If it sounds like Indiana, it is. Auburn and Indiana basketball are very similar and while the front court play will headline this matchup offensively, it will likely come down to which backcourt can make that one extra play — on either end of the floor — to lift them to a win.

Defensively, the Tigers like to do one thing; pressure the ball. Auburn is consistently one of the top defenses in the country and this year is no difference. They are allowing opponents to shoot just 41.8 percent effective field goal rate and just 42.7 percent on 2s alone. Auburn’s length and athleticism all over the floor allows them to switch every position and ball screen as necessary. It starts and ends with the ball pressure from the guards though. The Tigers are known for their ball pressure and will continuously pressure up — whether it’s full court or in a half court setting. Because of their athleticism and length, the wing defenders can hedge and recover easily, helping in a defensive unit that holds opponents to just 26.7 percent from three. Indiana needs to use its defense to orchestrate some easy offensive opportunities. If not, guys like Trey Galloway, Gabe Cupps and CJ Gunn will need to knock down some perimeter shots in order to open up the paint for Kel’el Ware and Malik Reneau.

Auburn is going to look to speed Indiana basketball up, especially if Xavier Johnson is out. Look for full court pressure — whether it’s a trap or just token pressure — to take Indiana out of any rhythm it looks to get in offensively. Bruce Pearl wants the game to be played at a hectic pace because he looks at his guards as able to win every matchup on any given night. Indiana’s guards need to be up for the challenge on Saturday.

Trending: ‘Indiana has the best front line in the Big Ten’: Indiana basketball set to face off with Auburn in résumé-building non-conference matchup

Projected Starters

G- Aden Holloway (Freshman; 6-1, 180)

Stats: 10.6 ppg, 3.3 apg, 34.9% 3pt

G- Denver Jones (Senior; 6-4, 205)

Stats: 7.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.1 apg, 36.4% 3pt

F- Chris Moore (Senior; 6-6, 220)

Stats: 3.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.3 apg

F- Jaylin Williams (Senior; 6-8, 235)

Stats: 7.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.0 bpg

F- Johni Broome (Junior; 6-10, 240)

Stats: 18.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.3 bpg

Key Notes

  • Auburn is 89-25 under Bruce Pearl against non-conference opponents
  • The Tigers rank 10th in the country in assists per game (18.4)
  • Auburn averages 35.6 points per game from its bench — ranked fifth nationally
  • Indiana basketball averages 41.0 points per game inside the paint and shoots 57.6 percent inside the arc

SEE ALSO: What we’ve learned from Indiana basketball opens Big Ten play with two tough wins

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.