Vanderbilt guard Scotty Pippen Jr. (2) shoots as he collides with Florida forward Keyontae Johnson (11) during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (Wade Payne/The Tennessean via AP)

SEC Basketball: Auburn Tigers Face Vanderbilt Commodores

Surprising to few, the 2021 NCAA basketball season has been unsuccessful for both the Auburn Tigers and Vanderbilt Commodores. Coming into the year, the Tigers were battling massive recruiting violation issues and the Commodores have been a struggle program for much of the recent future. Auburn enters Tuesday’s matchup at 8:30 p.m. ET with a (10-10) record while Vanderbilt stands at a disappointing (5-9). Despite the teams struggles, the matchup should prove to be exciting as there is a plethora of fire power in the form of the Tiger’s Sharife Cooper and Vanderbilt’s Scottie Pippen Jr.

Vanderbilt’s Poor Conference Play

Significantly contributing to their lack of success in recent years, Vanderbilt has long been unable to gain any momentum in conference play. Regarding the 2019-2020 season, Vanderbilt was only able to generate three SEC wins. That said, this year has been much of the same. Fourteen games in, they only have one in conference victory.

Outside of the SEC, the Commodores have gone 4-2 this season. Although many of the opponents from these six games were subpar, the success has to serve as a great confidence builder. Fortunate for Vanderbilt, Tuesday’s game against Auburn gives them an opportunity to turn their season around and defeat a SEC program. That said, to accomplish this feat, they will need to minimize turnovers. They currently average 13.9 turnovers per game and the Tigers love to run in transition. If recent performances mean anything, the Commodores will need to have arguably their best game of the season to beat the Tigers.

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Auburn Sputtering

After the return of Cooper, the Tigers seemed to hit a mid-season stride. Most notably, on Jan. 26, the Tigers defeated the then No. 12 ranked Missouri Tigers. Since then, Auburn has begun to regress. After three straight losses, Auburn has recently fallen to No. 2 Baylor, Georgia and Ole Miss.

Fortunate for the Tigers, their matchup against Vanderbilt could prove a stepping stool for the rest of the season. In order to emerge victorious, it will be crucial for the Tigers to crash the glass. Vanderbilt junior forward Quentin Millora-Brown is questionable for the game and averages 4.0 rebounds. While this seems miniscule, his presence is very important off the bench. After the Commodores, Auburn’s next couple opponents include the likes of Kentucky, LSU, Florida and Tennessee. If the Tigers are able to handily beat Vanderbilt, it could prove to be jolt that propels them towards success for the rest of the season.

Star Power

Although both the Tigers and Commodores don’t bring much to the table regarding quality of play, they excel in the category of star power. Both Auburn’s Cooper and Scottie Pippen Jr. have emerged on the scene in dominate fashion. With Cooper averaging 20.3 and Pippen 21.0, each lead their teams in scoring and have gained the nation’s attention. Coincidentally, they struggled in their most recent game. Facing Georgia, Pippen went 3 of 12 from the field and score a mere 12 points. Furthermore, against Ole Miss, Cooper also struggled and went 4 of 13 from the field for 15 points. Both will look to turn it around tonight.

If the teams play man defense, it is likely that Cooper and Pippen could matchup against each other on multiple occasions. Considering that both generate the majority of their teams offense, the winner of their matchup will likely propel their team to victory.

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Where to Watch

Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m ET at Memorial Gymnasium. Coverage will be on SEC Network.

About William Silverman

William Silverman is a junior at the University of Florida from Philadelphia who is interested in pursuing a career in business, communications and journalism.

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