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It's a bit last minute, but as we did in the previous game at Auburn, A Sea of Blue exchanges questions and answers with the SB Nation Auburn community, College And Magnolia.
Chris Fuhrmeister at College And Magnolia and I largely missed each other with this Q&A due to prior commitments, but managed to get together at the last minute.
You can find my answers to Chris' questions here, and what follows are his answers to mine.
ASoB: Auburn had a six-game losing streak just after defeating South Carolina on the road last month. What went wrong? Is it getting better?
C&M: After that win over South Carolina, the Tigers lost a heartbreaker on the road against Arkansas in double overtime, and then they were hammered at home against Kentucky. I feel like that two-game stretch really put a dent in Auburn's confidence.
It's pretty simple: Auburn was shooting really well in the wins over LSU and Carolina to start SEC play, and since then, the Tigers haven't been able to buy a bucket. Hopefully, the game against Alabama will be a turning point. In the first half, Auburn was 3-of-23 in the first half and scored 13 points, but in the second half, the Tigers shot 57 percent and pulled off a 12-point win.
ASoB:. What player has shown the most improvement over the last few weeks? In what way has the team improved?
C&M: Well, considering the season has gone into the toilet in recent weeks, it's hard to pick out a player who has really improved. However, junior forward Allen Payne has upped his play a bit. In the last three games, Payne has averaged 10.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals and only 2.3 turnovers. He was a major factor in breaking the Tigers' six-game losing streak with a 49-37 win over Alabama, contributing 11 points, six rebounds, two steals and an assist.
ASoB: If you could pick any player from any team other than Kentucky to step in and play for Auburn, who would it be and why? Predict the outcome of the game.
C&M: Auburn has struggled with its inside game too often this season, so I'd like a guy that could consistently contribute down low on both ends of the court. Ole Miss's Murphy Holloway is averaging 15.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. I'd love to have a guy that could put up those numbers.
As for this game. I think Auburn may play better than it did in the first matchup, but I don't believe the Tigers have enough to win, especially in Rupp Arena. Auburn was able to find a ton of success in the paint in the second half against Alabama, and that probably won't be possible against Nerlens Noel and the Wildcats. If Auburn is shooting well, it'll likely be a close game. If not, it'll resemble the blowout on Jan. 19. I think this one will be somewhere in between. Kentucky 75, Auburn 61.
Thanks to Chris for working with us. Be sure to visit College And Magnolia during the game to see their commentary from the perspective of the other side.