Auburn is battled-tested to say the least after a loss to No. 1 Gonzaga, but the Tigers have a chance to bounce back from their first blemish of the season with a Monday matchup against the University of Central Florida, which is making its season debut.
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The game (7 p.m. ET start time) won’t be on regular TV anywhere, but you can watch Auburn vs UCF on ESPN+ right here:
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You can also watch on your computer via ESPN.com.
Auburn vs UCF Preview
Auburn is off to 1-1 start to the year and the Tigers have kept things interesting. Bruce Pearl’s young squad won their first game in overtime against Saint Joseph’s, 96-91, with five players in double-figures.
Auburn then faced Gonzaga over the weekend, the No. 1 team in the country. The Tigers fell behind by double-digits before half and ended up getting blown out, 90-67.
“Well, we’re obviously disappointed that we didn’t play better. Gonzaga had a lot to do with that,” Pearl said of the loss to the Bulldogs. “We were very reactive. We need to do a better job of communicating our actions on the defensive end and just try to be more disruptive. Obviously, you let a really good team with talent that run good stuff, run their stuff, they’re going to have their way with you. Getting off to bad starts both games and half has been an issue. And I guess the last thing would be big foul trouble for us early kind of messed up our rotations.”
With UCF, Auburn has the advantage of having played two games, which in this day-and-age with all the postponements and cancellations is a big plus. However, the Knights have some tape to review on what the Tigers look like this year, while the same isn’t true the other way around.
“Then they’ve got two games where they will have an opportunity to see who we are and what we do. So we’ll be really well scouted,” Pearl said. “And then in our third game, we’re going to have to make all kinds of adjustments. On the other end, we don’t know what they look like. We had no exhibition, no exhibition games on them, so we’ll go into that game with blinders. That puts us, again, at a real disadvantage.”
UCF finished last season 16-14 overall and 7-11 in AAC play. UCF is lost five players from last year’s squad, but get two transfers from Power 5 schools in Darius Perry and CJ Walker. Perry came over from Louisville, while Walker is coming in from Oregon. Walker is a former five-star recruit and will be the first player of the caliber to play for the UCF program.
“He definitely will impact us because he gives us another player with versatility,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “He’s very active, he makes a lot of plays defensively, but he can also make plays offensively as well. We’re excited to have him.”
UCF is a 1.5-point favorite for the matchup, with the total set at 142 points.
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