The Auburn men's basketball will look to get back on track against Ole Miss on Saturday after dropping two-straight games, including Tuesday night's 91-86 loss to Georgia at home.
The contest between the two rivals featured something rare for this Auburn team — getting pushed around and dominated in the paint to the tune of 52 points and an eight-rebound advantage from the Bulldogs. Allowing so many points in the paint was "very frustrating," said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl.
"They were beating us with their dominant hands," said Pearl, who noted that the Bulldogs were driving by the Tigers to the paint all night. "We weren’t locked into the scouting report. So it was very, very frustrating.
"Our centers didn’t score at all. They didn’t get much opportunity. We got outplayed. We got outplayed in the paint whether it was the guards driving it or the bigs scoring it and rebounding it."
Pearl said he has "no idea" how the team is going to respond and that the matchup vs. the Bulldogs was the first time all year the Tigers didn't show up ready to play.
"It hasn’t happened yet this year, and so I’m disappointed," he said. "That’s on the coach. I’ve got to own that, and I will. Georgia outplayed us. We didn’t lose. They outplayed us. But the thing I talked to the team about after the Baylor game was if we didn’t make a few adjustments, this was going to continue. We didn’t make those adjustments. Georgia beat us the same way that Baylor beat us, and there’s plenty of tape on it. So our guys are going to see this for the rest of the year."
The Tigers will likely see a similar approach on Saturday from Ole Miss, which sits at 9-8 overall and 4-6 in SEC play but is coming off an upset win over No. 11 Tennessee. The Rebels also feature one the conference's most stingy defenses, giving up only 62.2 points a game, well below the Tigers' average of 78.8.
The Tigers have gotten an offensive boost lately from sophomore forward Jaylin Williams, who put up 21 points Tuesday against the Bulldogs and has scored in double figures in three of the last four games. On the season, Williams is averaging 11 points and 4.7 rebounds a game.
"I think Jaylin has real talent; he’s got a real feel; he’s got stuff you can’t teach," said Pearl. "His motor continues to run. He plays aggressively and physically. He can be a dominant player in our league. He’s capable. Some guys can pick it up and they can be really effective and really play at this level. Jaylin can be a great player if he continues to grow and develop and continues to work. He’s got a chance."
The Tigers are still without freshman guard Justin Powell, who is recovering from a concussion and hasn't seen action since Jan. 2 vs. Texas A&M.
"The concussion is so serious he’s been out for a month," said Pearl. "It’s really hard right now for him to do his school work because it’s requiring his brain to work, and we're trying to shut his brain down and let it get healthy and let it heal."
The Tigers will try to snap their two-game skid at 3 p.m. Saturday vs. the Rebels. The game will be televised on ESPN2.