Photo: TJ Starks
Source: Streeter Lecka / Getty Image North America

Preview: Auburn at Texas A&M

No. 12 Auburn goes after its first true road victory of the season Wednesday night when the Tigers pay a visit to Texas A&M, which is coming off one of its best performances of the campaign. Auburn has dropped road contests to North Carolina State and Ole Miss within the last month, but will try to break that string by snapping a three-game losing streak against the Aggies in the SEC battle.

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“I think, for us, we want to go on the road and play better,” Tigers coach Bruce Pearl told the Auburn Plainsman. “We want to handle the ball better and not turn the ball over as much. We’re going to play with the same effort, energy and confidence that we do at home. From that standpoint, it’s a great opportunity for us.” The Tigers seek to gain some momentum from Saturday’s 93-78 victory over Georgia at home, in which they shot 50 percent from the field and made 12-of-25 from 3-point range, while Texas A&M rallied from an 11-point deficit to win at Alabama 81-80 on the same day. “Hopefully, this (victory) gives us some energy and confidence,” Aggies coach Billy Kennedy told reporters after his team registered just three turnovers. Sophomore guard T.J. Starks leads Texas A&M in scoring (14.4) and drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to decide Saturday’s contest, but must rebound from a 4-for-17 shooting performance against the Crimson Tide.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU

ABOUT AUBURN (12-3, 1-1 SEC): Senior guard Bryce Brown is averaging 18.7 points over the last three games to improve his season mark to a team-high 15.8 with a team-best 51 makes from behind the arc. Junior guard Jared Harper had 22 points and dished out seven assists against Georgia to push his season totals to 15.0 and 6.7 (first in the SEC), respectively, and junior center Austin Wiley also scores in double figures (11.3). Sophomore forward Chuma Okeke managed just nine points in the past two games combined, but is averaging 9.9 overall to go along with 6.1 rebounds per contest.

ABOUT TEXAS A&M (7-7, 1-2): Sophomore guard Savion Flagg is the only other player in double figures scoring (12.9) for the Aggies and he is averaging 16.5 over the last four games while leading the team at 8.2 rebounds per contest overall. Junior forward Josh Nebo (8.0 points per game) stepped up by scoring a season-high 21 on 10-of-12 from the field to go along with seven rebounds and four blocks against Alabama. Junior guard Wendell Mitchell, who added 18 points versus Alabama, and senior forward Christian Mekowulu (53.1 percent from the field overall) both average 9.5 points per game.

TIP-INS

1. Texas A&M sophomore G Jay Jay Chandler scored 18 in the loss to Kentucky on Jan. 8, but was held to four by Alabama.

2. Auburn senior G Malik Dunbar is averaging 11 points on 12-of-21 from the field over the last three games.

3. The Tigers are first in the SEC in offensive rebounds per game (15.5) and the Aggies are second (12.8).

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Posted in CBB, Top Fantasy Picks

Fanpicks.com College Football Bowl Game Preview

BIRMINGHAM BOWL

Memphis vs. Auburn

As we continue our College Football Bowl games roundup; Fanpicks.com is proud to preview the Birmingham Bowl featuring Memphis and Auburn.  We predict a rather one sided game in favour of Memphis by a score of 42 – 28.  Play the best fantasy college football contests at Fanpicks.com; the premiere and most exciting destination for daily fantasy sports.

Memphis will head into bowl season without the head coach that guided them into the College Football Playoff Rankings before a late-season swoon. Justin Fuente took the vacant head coaching job at Virginia Tech, and the Tigers brought in former Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell on a five-year contract to be the new coach, but interim coach Darrell Dickey will guide Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., against Auburn on Dec. 30. Dickey is expected to remain with the program as part of Norvell’s staff moving forward.

Auburn had big expectations heading into the season but ended up falling off the pace as Jeremy Johnson struggled early at quarterback and eventually lost the job before regaining it down the stretch. The junior threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more in a 56-34 win over Idaho on Nov. 21 that gained the team bowl eligibility but struggled again in a loss to Alabama the next week. Johnson threw only one of his seven interceptions on the season in the final four games.

Memphis will have the best quarterback on the field in senior Paxton Lynch, who might be the top quarterback taken in this spring’s NFL draft. Lynch threw for 28 touchdowns and three interceptions, with seven of those TDs coming on nine completions in a 63-0 victory over SMU in the regular-season finale. Lynch guided an offense that averaged 510.4 yards and 42.7 points.

MEMPHIS Season Overview (9-3): While Lynch is auditioning for pro scouts, most of the rest of the roster will attempt to impress Norvell and the new coaching staff. Norvell is expected to keep a similar up-tempo pace after guiding an Arizona State offense that averaged 39.3 points. The Tigers made big strides as a program under Fuente and ranked 13 in the first CFP rankings after beginning the season 8-0, but consecutive losses to Navy, Houston and Temple buried any hope the team had of a New Year’s Six bowl.

AUBURN Season Overview (6-6): Auburn was supposed to have an offense to rival the top teams in the SEC but never got things going under Johnson or freshman Sean White, who is recovering from a knee injury and could be back for the bowl game. The extra month of bowl practice gives coach Gus Malzahn a chance to work with a defense that lost coordinator Will Muschamp and secondary coach Travaris Robinson to the annual carousel. “Our goal in these first three practices is just get better with what we do,” Malzahn told reporters in mid-December. “That’s a big advantage with these bowl practices for that development of your guys as far as fundamentals … development of your young guys and also evaluate your young guys, because a lot of these guys have been on the scout team all year.”

Posted in CFB