We are continuing this week's series on important questions each SEC needs to answer. Today Andrew Parrish takes a look at Auburn and Florida.
You can read Andrew's look at Alabama and Arkansas here.
Auburn: Can Justin Powell sustain this level of play?
One of the bigger surprises in college basketball this season is the development and performance of Justin Powell for Bruce Pearl’s Auburn team. The freshman from the backyard of blue-bloods Kentucky and Louisville made his way to the Plains as a three-star prospect after missing a lot of his senior season due to injury. The Tigers were not necessarily expecting a lot out of Powell during his freshman season, but due to the NCAA-imposed exile of five-star freshman, Sharife Cooper (until this weekend’s loss against Alabama, where Cooper impressed for 26 points and 9 assists) and the departure of former four-star Tyrell Jones, Powell was thrown into the line of duty more quickly than could have been expected. Powell responded incredibly well to this increase in role from the beginning, eventually grabbing hold of the starting point guard job by his fourth collegiate game and scoring 26 points in the two games following that promotion. Powell struggled to score the ball in Auburn’s first two conference games, averaging 3 points against Arkansas and A&M before missing their third game against Ole Miss due to a head injury. The Tigers have been successful when Powell is successful (16 PPG in Auburn wins, 5.3 PPG in losses) and if the Tigers (Cooper specifically) can help Powell in more of the creation duties as SEC play moves on, Powell has all of the potential to continue to score the ball at a high rate and, in turn, earn the Tigers their first conference victory of the season.
Florida: Can the Gators cut down on turning over the ball?
The Florida Gators started this season flying high, winning all but one game in their first six despite losing preseason SEC Player of the Year Keyontae Johnson to a potentially season-ending condition during the Florida State game, which was the Gators’ first loss on the season. The Gators have struggled as of late however, losing two games by an average of 16.5 points per loss against Alabama and Kentucky before bouncing back with a win against Ole Miss. One of the most concerning things about Florida in their last few games is their propensity to turn over the ball in bunches. The Gators turn the ball over on 20.4% of their possessions, which is ranked 213th in the country and 9th in the SEC, which is a concerning trend when four of the top 50 teams in defensive turnover rate are in the SEC. Looking into the individual turnover numbers, the Gators have six players with over a 20% turnover rate, which could prove costly against a team that is able to capitalize on that sloppiness by turning turnovers into easy points on the other end. Cutting down on the turnovers will help the Gators escape the bad run of form that they’re currently on, which will affect their fate for SEC and NCAA Tournament seedings down the road.
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