The Big 12/SEC Challenge should feature plenty of intriguing games. Auburn-Iowa State isn’t likely to be one of those games.
TV Schedule: Saturday, January 25, 2020, at 12:00 PM ET, ESPNU
Location: Auburn Arena, Auburn, Alabama
When the Big/12 SEC Challenge slate was announced, no one anticipated the game between the Auburn Tigers and Iowa State Cyclones would feature such disparate teams. Both entered the 2019-20 season with reasonably high expectations of NCAA Tournament dates, at the least.
For Auburn, those March dreams are all but locked in with a month and a half to go in the regular season. The Tigers have lost just twice all season, both coming in SEC blowouts last week. Some feared a bigger slide was on the way, with a polarizing South Carolina team coming to town earlier this week.
Bruce Pearl’s team wouldn’t descend into the oblivion below, however. It wasn’t necessarily the prettiest game in Tigers history, but they used home cooking to their advantage and took care of the Gamecocks, 80-67, improving to 10-0 at Auburn Arena this season.
The biggest development in that win was the play of freshman guard Devan Cambridge. The Nashville native showed some sparks at the beginning of the year but has been largely quiet in conference play. That changed in a big way Wednesday, with Cambridge blowing out his previous best with a career-high 26 points, including six three-pointers.
— Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) January 23, 2020
With a bigger leash, Cambridge can develop into another offensive option on one of the deepest teams in America.
Iowa State can only dream of beating one of the deepest teams in the nation, let alone becoming one of them. Tyrese Haliburton has done everything expected of him but hasn’t received the help needed to carry the Cyclones to the postseason. Iowa State is a disappointing 9-9, with no true road victories on their resume.
The Cyclones are coming off a win, beating an Oklahoma State squad that has fallen apart in Big 12 play. In a parallel takeaway to that of Auburn’s most recent win, the Cyclones saw a scorer emerge in Solomon Young. Unlike Cambridge, Young has plenty of tread on his collegiate tires, as he’s a junior forward. Still, his career-high 27 points provides a glimmer of hope Iowa State can still turn this season around.
Doing so at Auburn is going to be a massive challenge, though. These teams couldn’t have more opposing home/road splits, with Auburn undefeated at home and Iowa State winless on the road. That alone is a difficult thing to overcome.
But there’s also a good chance Steve Prohm’s team is simply not going to be able to keep up with Auburn when the Tigers are roaring down the court. Auburn is one of the country’s best scoring teams, averaging 79 points per game. Iowa State doesn’t actually trail far behind in the category, but they do defensively, surrendering 72.1 points per game. But the Tigers only gives up 67.4 points per game.
That’s a recipe for disaster for Iowa State, who could get run out of the state.
Prediction: Auburn 81, Iowa State 65