Two years ago the season was off to a relatively good start. The Chris Singleton and Derwin Kitchen led Noles were off to a 11-3 start, and their three losses were to No. 16 Florida, No. 2 Ohio State and Butler, who would go on to play in the national championship game. The Noles had a win over a very good Clemson team, and had just knocked off No. 15 Baylor in the Diamond Head Classic.
From there they traveled to Auburn, who - despite being a complete dumpster fire of a team - would be playing their first game in a just opened $92.5 million dollar arena. Today, some old Noles reminisced about that trip:
Luke Loucks (@lukeloucks) January 2, 2013
Deividas Dulkys (@DD_Lt) January 2, 2013
If you don't remember how that game went, here's a little excerpt from the game thread (click to enlarge).
A week later the Noles knocked off No. 1 Duke. So it goes.
Last year Auburn made the return trip to Tallahassee and were completely dismantled 85-56 in FSUs first full game with a 3-guard lineup.
Now it's on to round 3.
This year's Auburn Tigers (5-7) is still a bad team. But they're nowhere near how bad they were two years ago. They still have a marginal offense which relies far too much on 6-1 senior Frankie Hammond who leads the team with 17.2 points per game. But he takes over 31% of the shots when he's on the floor. The other scorer is 6-2 junior Chris Denson. He's averaging over 15, but missed the first seven games due to academics.
In Denson's absence, it looked like 6-3 freshman Jordan Price was beginning to get into the flow of the college game (and he made 11 straight 3s at one point), but he's injured and will miss several weeks.
Auburn's best asset on offense is their ability to extend plays with offensive boards. This is going to be something to watch tonight. In terms of who is most likely to burn FSU from deep (a trend of late), look for Denson (37% last year) or 6-6 senior Noel Johnson (49%).
Defensively, Auburn pressures the ball, but they do so at the expense of fouling. They're 285th nationally at keeping teams off the line. They have experimented with a zone this year, but I wouldn't expect much of it tonight. If FSU can take care of the ball and display the same attacking offense they've been honing the past few games, they'll be fine. But that's a big if.
Assuming one team doesn't completely go hog wild from the arc, I'm betting this one comes down to possessions. OR% and TO% are the two things I'll be paying close attention to.
The game tips at 7pm Eastern, and will be broadcast on local Fox Sports affiliates as well as ESPN3. The Noles are a 3-point favorite according to Pomeroy, and 3.5 in Vegas.