South Alabama basketball travels to Auburn looking to spring upset

South Alabama came as shut to an upset of Auburn as attainable a time ago,

South Alabama came as shut to an upset of Auburn as attainable a time ago, but a good deal has adjusted in a year’s time.

Isaac Okoro’s putback in the final seconds gave the Tigers a 70-69 victory around the Jaguars in Cell on Nov. 12, 2019. That activity was played in advance of a packed property of extra than 10,000 at the Mitchell Center.

The Jaguars (3-1) and Tigers (1-2) satisfy once again at 8 p.m. Friday in Auburn, but there won’t be a capacity group at Auburn Arena for a match televised by SEC Network. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only greatly lessened admirer participation, but also saved the two groups from receiving in a whole pre-time agenda of intra-squad game titles.

“They’ve received a large amount of new faces,” South Alabama coach Richie Riley reported. “They’re incredibly athletic and definitely talented. … They’ll be enjoying their most effective basketball as soon as they get into conference play, just like us. But they’re genuinely good. (J.T.) Thor has a opportunity to be a professional. They do not have all those fellas that have been there a lengthy time — Anfernee McLemore, Austin Wiley, Danjel Purifoy, but they’ve obtained fellas that are in the similar mold.

“They’re a superior-significant workforce. The primary distinction concerning mid-big and substantial-main teams is the measurement, and the athleticism. And they have a entire crew of equally. We have received to do a excellent occupation of valuing the ball, because they are going to force us. We really don’t require to give the ball to them and give them uncomplicated chances, and also give ourselves possibilities to make shots.”

Auburn, which reached the Remaining Four in 2019 and was 25-6 and NCAA tournament-certain when the pandemic halted the time previous March, has lost two of its very first three this year. With 5-star freshman place guard Sharife Cooper sidelined due to eligibility worries, the Tigers beat St. Joseph’s 96-91 in extra time in their opener, but have considering that misplaced 90-67 to No. 1 Gonzaga and 63-55 at UCF.

Place guard Michael Bouquets, a transfer from Western Michigan, qualified prospects the South Alabama crew in scoring at 20.3 factors for each recreation. Sophomore guard Tyreke Locure is averaging 11.5 points and 7.8 rebounds for each game for the Jaguars, although 6-foot-8 graduate transfer Kayo Gonçalves is placing up 12.3 details and 6.3 rebounds for each outing.

South Alabama has been wracked by injuries significantly of the drop, with sophomore ahead KK Curry and junior-faculty transfer David Walker “still trying to get their legs below them” and freshman ahead Zondrick Garrett out with a sprained ankle. Ahead Sam Iorio — a transfer from American University — hasn’t performed the previous two online games following having a really hard tumble early in a acquire over Cell during past weekend’s Goldie and Herman Ungar Traditional in Cell.

“We’re hoping that he can get out there and keep there,” Riley mentioned. “He’s like our quarterback. Mike Flowers is our issue guard, and he would make us go, but we play as a result of Iorio a large amount. He just does so a great deal for us. It killed us not getting him in the a person activity we shed.”

“… We’re just preventing every working day. But there are no excuses. We’re satisfied to engage in. We can not hold out to get out there and compete.”

South Alabama received two of three games in the Ungar Typical, beating Florida Atlantic 68-66 on Flowers’ last-next 3-ideas, then topping Cell 95-75 in spite of Iorio’s early exit. The Jaguars then shed to Jacksonville State 77-73 right before bouncing back again to rout Division II opponent Emmanuel (Ga.) 86-47 this past Tuesday.