No. 13 Auburn (5-0) will look to continue its red-hot shooting when it meets undefeated Northwestern (5-0) in the Cancun Challenge Championship Game on Wednesday in Cancun, Mexico.
In an 85-64 rout over Bradley in the opening round, the Tigers had five players score in double figures. It marked the first time since a 100-81 win over Alabama last season (Feb. 1, 2022) that Bruce Pearl’s team had five players score in double digits.
Auburn also set season highs in shooting from the field (56.4 percent), the 3-point line (47.1 percent) and free-throw line (75 percent) as 10 Tigers scored.
“I thought we shot it well,” Pearl said. “I thought most of it was in rhythm. When we ran offense and we got the right spacing, we got good looks. It’s good to see us shoot the ball in rhythm, and it was good to see us get really good looks.”
After missing the game against Texas Southern, Johni Broome returned to the lineup and paced the Tigers with 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
Broome has scored in double-digits in three of the four games he’s played and ranks fourth in the SEC in rebounding (9.0 per game) and third in blocks (3.0 per game).
Wendell Green Jr. continued his outstanding start to the 2022-23 campaign by scoring 14 points and dishing out six assists against the Braves. Green is averaging 14.0 points and 4.4 assists per game.
Jaylin Williams has 25 points combined in his last two games. Williams, along with KD Johnson, Allen Flanigan, Dylan Cardwell, Yohan Traore and Chris Moore, Chance Westry and Zep Jasper fill out a 10-to-12-man playing rotation Pearl can rely on against any opponent.
“Every day we come to practice, our motto is strength in numbers,” Broome said. “Our 11 is better than their seven or eight. We’ll play 10, 11, some nights 12. So, just being able to count on the guy next to you is very important.”
Northwestern isn’t as deep as Auburn, but Chris Collins’ team features four quality scorers in Boo Buie, Robbie Beran, Chase Audige and Ty Berry — and is stingy defensively.
In the 66-52 win over Liberty, which set up a matchup with Auburn in the title game, Audige had 20 points and five assists while Berry added 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Beran chipped in with eight points and seven boards. After scoring a season-high 28 points against Purdue Fort Wayne, Buie had just five points.
Northwestern entered Tuesday’s game against Liberty ranked 13th nationally in scoring defense (53.8 points per game) and that showed in the win over the Flames. The Wildcats recorded 13 steals and scored 21 points off turnovers while limiting Liberty to 34 percent shooting from the field (17 of 50).
“We’ve got to get better but fortunately our defense is elite right now,” Collins said. “That’s our calling card. That’s our identity. And we’ve got to continue to evolve offensively.”
–Field Level Media