Auburn hoping to stop freefall at Vanderbilt

By Jackson Love

Fans had a reason to be optimistic after Auburn toppled the 12th-ranked Missouri Tigers two weeks ago. Since then, it’s been all lowlights as Auburn has dropped three-straight games, including two home matchups against rivals Georgia and Ole Miss. This week, the Tigers are set to play two road games in venues that have been a source of tremendous struggles in recent years, the first in Nashville against the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Here’s how both teams stack up:


The Commodores have been amongst the SEC’s worst in the last three seasons, sporting a combined record of 4-40 (.091 winning percentage) in the SEC since the 2018-19 season. It’s a bit of head scratcher considering that Vanderbilt’s point guard is Scotty Pippen Jr., who is second in the entire SEC in points per game (21.0) and assists per game (5.4). Out of the frontcourt is Dylan Disu, who sits at second in the SEC in rebounds per game (8.2).

Vanderbilt (5-9, 1-7 SEC) picked up its lone conference win in a 12-point victory over South Carolina, but beyond that, its defense has been unable to stop the attacks of opposing teams. The Commodores allow more points per game (74.4) than they score (73.7), and their defensive efficiency comes in at 210th in the country according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings.


Auburn has lost nine of its last ten games in Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium. That 10th game was two years ago, when Auburn beat the Commodores by 11 prior to its Final Four run, and it was the Tigers’ first win in Nashville since the 2000 season.

Offense is not the problem for the Tigers. Auburn’s defense allows 76.2 points per game, the worst mark in the SEC, and that’s despite being the top shot-blocking team in the country with 6.1 blocks per game. Put simply, the defense is atrocious. In the loss to Ole Miss, Auburn allowed Romello White and Devontae Shuler to combine for 56 points—not a winning recipe.

For all its struggles, Auburn (10-10, 4-7 SEC) is surprisingly well-respected in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. They boast a top-30 offense, and Auburn’s schedule is one of the hardest in terms of opposing defenses. Tuesday’s game vs Vanderbilt is a rare opportunity to punish a weak defense and score lots of points, but Auburn’s defense will have to show up on the opposite end of the floor and keep Vanderbilt’s offense from looking more impressive than it actually is.

Keys to the Game for Vanderbilt

Take advantage of Auburn’s defense. The Commodores rank 9th in the SEC in points per game, but Scotty Pippen, Jr. can score, especially around Auburn’s inexperienced big men. If he can get a lot of time against the bottom of Auburn’s rotation, look out.

Control the glass. Dylan Disu averages over eight rebounds per game, but as a team the Commodores rank 13th in the SEC in rebounding.

Keys to the Game for Auburn

Control the three-point line. Vanderbilt is one of the few teams that can outdo Auburn in three-pointers per game. Auburn needs to win that battle if they want to come away with the road win.

Don’t let off the gas. Auburn plays fast, and Vanderbilt’s defense is not known for keeping points off the board. They don’t have to hang triple digits on the Commodores, but the offense may need to create a cushion if the defense can’t produce stops.


Auburn is on a major skid, and although Vanderbilt is the SEC’s worst team, they do well enough in certain categories that this game will be one to sweat over. In the end, Auburn has more talent than Vanderbilt and will come out with the win, but it may come down to the final minutes.