GAME NOTES: The Auburn Tigers will tip off a four-game homestand on Thursday night, as they welcome the Clemson Tigers to Auburn Arena for a non-conference showdown.
Clemson has started off well this season with wins in eight of its first 10 games, including a triumph in its most recently contest at home versus Furman on Saturday, 71-35. The squad won a couple of neutral-court contests over Temple (72-58) and Davidson (85-54) in the Charleston Classic last month, but it lost its only true road game, falling at Arkansas on Dec. 7, 74-65.
Auburn is currently riding a two game losing streak, as it fell to Iowa State on Dec. 2 (99-70) and Illinois on Dec. 8 (81-62), but both of those matchups came away from home. It has performed admirably at Auburn Arena this season, winning four of five.
Auburn leads the all-time series with Clemson, 14-11, although the teams haven't met since 1993.
Clemson was dominant in its latest bout, as it outshot Furman from the field, 50 percent to 30.2 percent, and held convincing advantages in the rebounding (37-23) and turnover (16-10) battles en route to the 36-point blowout victory. Jordan Roper led the way with 16 points, while Devin Coleman and K.J. McDaniels each scored 12 points. Landry Nnoko and Sidy Djitte were active on the glass with 11 and 10 rebounds, respectively.
On the season, Clemson's offense has been modest at best, shooting under 44 percent from the field for 68.6 points per game, but luckily it has experienced plenty of success behind its incredible play on the other end of the floor, as it ranks first in the nation in both scoring defense (51.7 ppg) and field-goal percentage defense (.347). K.J. Daniels is a multi-talented big man who tallies 17.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game, while also shooting 34.1 percent from 3-point range and an outstanding 89.4 percent from the free-throw line. Rod Hall just misses out on the double-digit scorers club with 9.9 points per game.
Auburn never had much of a chance its last time out, as it shot 40.4 percent from the field, while allowing Illinois to make good on a lofty 61.5 percent of its tries from the floor as it suffered the 19-point defeat. Despite the relative struggles of his teammates, KT Harrell was able to shine with a career-high 23 points on 6-of-11 from the field and 8-of-8 from the charity stripe. Tahj Shamsid-Deen was also solid with 13 points.
Auburn is able to score 75.9 points per game despite less than impressive percentages from the field (.435) and 3-point range (.260) mostly due to its active nature from the foul line, as it drains 73.3 percent of its more than 28 free-throw attempts per game. Unfortunately, its defensive effort (77.0 ppg) has not been up to snuff. Chris Denson is the top scoring threat with 19.9 points per game, while Harrell (18.4 ppg) is hot on his heels. Shamsid- Deen brings 9.1 points per game to the table but does so on just 36.1 percent field goal shooting.
Auburn has played well on its home floor this season, which could give it a fighting chance in this one, but its already suspect shooting attack will have a hard time cracking Clemson's stout defensive pressure.
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