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No. 25 Auburn basketball flattens Georgia, 94-73, in rematch 2/2/2023 Tom Green,

Wendell Green Jr. didn’t hesitate.

The Auburn point guard and leading scorer dribbled the ball up court, pushing the pace before abruptly pulling up in transition from the right wing as he drained a 3-pointer. Georgia coach Mike White couldn’t call a timeout quick enough as his team endured an onslaught from Green and the Tigers.

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White’s timeout with 6:43 to play in the first half did little to slow down Auburn. Georgia’s Terry Roberts committed an offensive foul out of the timeout, and Green splashed another 3-pointer on the other end to give Auburn 17 unanswered points and a 19-point lead.

That early surge of two-way dominance during a 5 ½-minute stretch in the first half — during which Georgia had more turnovers (five) than shot attempts (four, all misses) — provided No. 25 Auburn with more than enough cushion in its rematch with Georgia, as Bruce Pearl’s team ran away with a 94-73 win at Neville Arena. After that 17-0 run, Auburn never let up, its lead expanding to as any as 29 points in the second half as it avenged its earlier loss to Georgia.

The win also got Auburn (17-5, 7-2 SEC) back on track after back-to-back losses against Texas A&M and West Virginia, as the Tigers got a must-have victory to kick off the final full month of the season.

“We’ve got to beat the teams that we can and pick off some ones we’re going to be an underdog,” Pearl said. “We’ve got nine games left and we’re probably going to be a dog in six of them. So, we’ve got to win the ones we’re supposed to win and can win and then we’ve got to see if we can pick off a couple that are going to be really, really hard to get.”

Along with the dominant first half, Auburn got a balanced effort from its top-billed players. Johni Broome had 19 points and 18 rebounds, while Allen Flanigan scored a team-high 22, Wendell Green Jr. added 18 and six assists, and K.D. Johnson finished with 13. Up next is a treacherous stretch, beginning with Saturday’s visit to No. 2 Tennessee, followed by a midweek road trip to Texas A&M and then a home game against No. 4 Alabama on Feb. 11.

“Everybody knew that we got Tennessee on Saturday, but I feel like the guys and myself had to come out and put on a show today in order to prepare for that game,” Broome said. “We knew we couldn’t come out and play around with Georgia. Now we’re getting our eyes on Tennessee.”

Here are’s key takeaways from Wednesday’s rivalry game:

Johni Broome dominated his matchup, again

Johni Broome let out a smile Tuesday when reflecting on his performance in Auburn’s first matchup with Georgia, noting that he knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in that game.

Broome attempted two more triples in the opening minutes of the Tigers’ rematch with the Bulldogs, and while he couldn’t get either look to fall, it was about the only thing that went wrong for Auburn’s big man Wednesday night at Neville Arena. Much like he did in that first meeting with Georgia, Broome dominated his matchup in the rematch: 19 points, a career-high tying 18 rebounds, one block and a steal.

That was after he posted 22 points and 12 rebounds while shooting 9-of-17 from the field against Georgia on Jan. 4. That line came in a 12-point loss, of course, so Broome will certainly be more pleased with his numbers from Wednesday’s game, as he was the most dominant player on the court in the Tigers’ blowout win.

“We absolutely dominated the five-position tonight,” Pearl said. “Dominated. I mean, just look at the numbers. Dylan (Cardwell) has three assists and one turnover. He has five rebounds. Johni (has) 19 and 18. They shot great percentages. Together they’re 13-for-16. That’s dominant. They had the pysical advantage tonight against a, you know, smaller — an athletic Georgia team. That’s not going to be the case heading into the next four or five games. But they certainly took advantage of their size and their physicality tonight.”

How good was Broome against Georgia? He recorded a first-half double-double for the first time this season, scoring 13 points and pulling down a dozen rebounds in the opening half — despite leaving the floor for a few minutes with an apparent ankle injury after getting tangled up with teammate Allen Flanigan with 7:46 to go in the half. At the time of his exit, Broome had seven points and eight rebounds. He returned to the game a few minutes later and showed no ill effects from the injury, promptly scoring on his first possession back on the floor and then grabbing a defensive rebound on the other end.

He secured his double-double — his seventh of the season — within his first 12 minutes of action, notching it on a tip-in of a missed Wendell Green Jr. drive with 2:54 to go until halftime. He became just the second Auburn player since the 2010-11 season to score at least 19 points and grab at least 18 rebounds in a game, joining Cinmeon Bowers — who accomplished that feat twice during the 2015-16 season.

Broome’s dominance on the boards also helped Auburn finish with a 37-27 rebounding advantage on the night. That included 13 offensive rebounds for the Tigers, with seven of them coming from Broome.

“Coming into the game, we knew we had to be the more physical team,” Broome said. “You know, last time we played them, they kind of beat us on the offensive glass, so we kind of took that a little personal. So, coming into this game, we wanted to be physical and dominate the glass.”

Auburn’s backcourt stepped up, didn’t get outplayed this time around

In Auburn’s earlier loss to Georgia last month, the Tigers’ backcourt was badly outplayed as Bulldogs guards Terry Roberts and Kario Oquendo were lights out, combining for 43 points, including a game-high 26 from Roberts. Auburn’s starting backcourt in that matchup combined for 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting with four turnovers, all from Green.

As Pearl said ahead of Wednesday’s game, it all comes down to guard play. Auburn’s backcourt took that to heart in the rematch with Georgia. Green finished with 18 points and six assists, while K.D. Johnson had his second straight game in double figures off the bench, finishing with 13 points. Eleven of those came in the second half for Johnson.

Flanigan was also unstoppable on the wing, finishing with a season-high 22 points, two shy of his career high and the most he has scored in a game since his sophomore season—before the Achilles injury he sustained last preseason. Flanigan finished 8-of-10 from the field and didn’t miss a shot after halftime, adding a pair of steals to his line.

Not only did Auburn’s guards do their part on the offensive end, they prevented Roberts and Oquendo from going off like they did in the teams’ first meeting. Roberts was limited to seven points and three turnovers on just 2-of-5 shooting, while Oquendo had 10 points on 2-of-8 shooting. It snapped a streak of 14 consecutive games in double figures for Roberts, who averaged 15.9 points per game during that stretch. Most importantly, Auburn kept Roberts off the free-throw line. After he went 9-of-12 from the line in last month’s game, he was just 1-of-2 from the stripe Wednesday.

“We impacted the ball screens more, stayed on them longer, made them give it up and made the other guys beat us,” Pearl said. “And Mike’s a great coach, so obviously recognizing that, they were throwing the ball to their shooters and allowing their shooters to shoot shots. I just decided, we decided that, we just wanted to let those two guys try, y’know — I wanted those guys to beat us again. And we did a better job of not fouling them as much. You know, they shot 32 free throws at Georgia.”

The defense let up in the second half, and it hardly mattered

Just how dominant was Auburn against Georgia? The Bulldogs were 10-of-19 from beyond the arc after halftime, and they saw their deficit only expand after the break.

Auburn led by 18 at halftime and won by 21, outscoring Georgia by three in the second half despite a barrage of long-range shots from the Bulldogs and giving up 49 points after the break. Many of those came from Mardrez McBride, who was 6-of-6 from deep in the second half and finished with 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc.

“They was able to hit a couple shots, but at least their guards weren’t getting downhill and breaking us apart,” Broome said.

In all, Georgia connected on 14 of its 34 3-point attempts (41.2 percent). It was the most makes from deep Auburn has allowed in a game this season — the previous high was nine, by Ole Miss and West Virginia — and yet it hardly mattered Wednesday night.

“We played them in really early January, and that night, they were better than us,” Pearl said. “We played them about a month or so later, and tonight, we were better than them. So that’s a good sign. I think it says our team’s improving.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

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