South Alabama basketball travels to Auburn searching to spring upset

South Alabama arrived as shut to an upset of Auburn as attainable a year back,…

South Alabama arrived as shut to an upset of Auburn as attainable a year back, but a great deal has transformed in a year’s time.

Isaac Okoro’s putback in the remaining seconds gave the Tigers a 70-69 victory over the Jaguars in Mobile on Nov. 12, 2019. That video game was played before a packed dwelling of much more than 10,000 at the Mitchell Centre.

The Jaguars (3-1) and Tigers (1-2) satisfy once again at 8 p.m. Friday in Auburn, but there won’t be a potential crowd at Auburn Arena for a game televised by SEC Network. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only drastically diminished admirer participation, but also saved each teams from having in a complete pre-year agenda of intra-squad online games.

“They’ve acquired a ton of new faces,” South Alabama coach Richie Riley said. “They’re incredibly athletic and genuinely gifted. … They’ll be enjoying their ideal basketball at the time they get into meeting participate in, just like us. But they are really superior. (J.T.) Thor has a prospect to be a pro. They do not have those fellas that have been there a lengthy time — Anfernee McLemore, Austin Wiley, Danjel Purifoy, but they’ve obtained guys that are in the identical mold.

“They’re a high-significant staff. The primary distinction amongst mid-major and significant-main teams is the measurement, and the athleticism. And they have a comprehensive crew of each. We have acquired to do a superior job of valuing the ball, due to the fact they are heading to tension us. We don’t will need to give the ball to them and give them straightforward chances, and also give ourselves possibilities to make pictures.”

Auburn, which achieved the Ultimate 4 in 2019 and was 25-6 and NCAA match-sure when the pandemic halted the time very last March, has lost two of its very first 3 this year. With 5-star freshman point guard Sharife Cooper sidelined thanks to eligibility concerns, the Tigers conquer St. Joseph’s 96-91 in time beyond regulation in their opener, but have considering the fact that shed 90-67 to No. 1 Gonzaga and 63-55 at UCF.

Point guard Michael Flowers, a transfer from Western Michigan, potential customers the South Alabama group in scoring at 20.3 factors for each video game. Sophomore guard Tyreke Locure is averaging 11.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game for the Jaguars, although 6-foot-8 graduate transfer Kayo Gonçalves is putting up 12.3 points and 6.3 rebounds for every outing.

South Alabama has been wracked by accidents a lot of the fall, with sophomore forward KK Curry and junior-higher education transfer David Walker “still making an attempt to get their legs under them” and freshman forward Zondrick Garrett out with a sprained ankle. Ahead Sam Iorio — a transfer from American College — has not played the last two video games right after having a tricky drop early in a win around Cellular throughout last weekend’s Goldie and Herman Ungar Typical in Cellular.

“We’re hoping that he can get out there and stay there,” Riley mentioned. “He’s like our quarterback. Mike Flowers is our issue guard, and he can make us go, but we engage in as a result of Iorio a good deal. He just does so much for us. It killed us not getting him in the one sport we lost.”

“… We’re just battling each individual day. But there are no excuses. We’re satisfied to play. We just can’t hold out to get out there and contend.”

South Alabama gained two of a few video games in the Ungar Basic, beating Florida Atlantic 68-66 on Flowers’ last-second 3-pointers, then topping Cell 95-75 irrespective of Iorio’s early exit. The Jaguars then missing to Jacksonville Point out 77-73 just before bouncing again to rout Division II opponent Emmanuel (Ga.) 86-47 this past Tuesday.