Appalachian St. Mountaineers vs. Auburn Tigers Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 3rd 2023

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Auburn has a nonconference schedule typical of an elite college basketball program. Seven games are at home, five are at neutral sites and one is a true road game.

What’s not typical is the hostile arena Auburn (5-1) will visit on Sunday when the Tigers take on Appalachian State (5-2) in Boone, N.C.

The last time the Mountaineers of the Sun Belt Conference hosted a power conference school was 23 years ago when they opened Holmes Convocation Center with a 99-69 loss to North Carolina.

It is the first national television game at the 8,325-seat arena. The last time the gym was sold out was in 2009 when Steph Curry and Davidson visited.

It promises to be loud.

“That’s why we scheduled it,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “To have that test and have that environment. Obviously, what it’ll do is it will really elevate the level of Appalachian State’s play.”

Both teams enter in strong form. Since an opening game loss to Baylor, Auburn has reeled off five straight wins, including a 74-57 domination of Virginia Tech in the ACC/SEC Challenge on Wednesday.

Johni Broome had 30 points and 13 rebounds and Chad Baker-Mazara contributed 15 points off the bench for the Tigers. Auburn overwhelmed the Hokies with defense, inducing 21 turnovers and 27.5 percent shooting from the floor.

The Tigers swarmed Hokies point guard Sean Pedulla, holding him to four points on 0-for-9 shooting with seven turnovers. Auburn cashed in with 30 points off turnovers compared to five for Virginia Tech.

Appalachian State is coming off its fourth straight win, a 72-61 decision over East Tennessee State on Wednesday. Transfer Tre’Von Spillers supplied 15 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

The Mountaineers have a balanced attack, with eight players averaging at least 7.0 points per game.

Justin Abson tops the team in rebounds (7.9) and blocks (2.9) per game. Donovan Gregory, an undersized forward at 6-foot-3 who operates close to the basket, is the top scorer at 13.1 points per game.

“That’s a big emphasis. Points in the paint are a big deal,” said coach Dustin Kerns, who took the Mountaineers to the NCAA Tournament in 2021. “You don’t have to live and die by the 3.”

–Field Level Media

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