Auburn, Alabama-Yohan Traore He arrived on campus last summer as a five-star recruit who looked like he had the size and talent to immediately contribute to coach Bruce Pearl’s Auburn basketball team. However, 19 games in the regular season did not have much impact, but recently the freshman showed signs that can change.
“You’ve been training better,” Pearl said as the Tigers prepare for Wednesday’s home game against Texas A&M. He has been more active in practice. He keeps learning and improving.”
In Auburn’s 81-66 road win over South Carolina last Saturday, the freshman made 3-6 field goals and scored eight points in 10 minutes off the bench. “It lifts my confidence,” Traore said of his performance against the Gamecocks. “I was really excited to play — just get in and play. It was so much fun making plays and dropping batters and making teams win.”
Traore, who says he’s put on 10 pounds of muscle since arriving in Auburn from Dream City Christian in Napa, Calif., is 6-10, 245 lbs. The striker from France’s Tours has shown good outside shooting touch in practice, but has struggled with this part of his performance in matches. Being in the right place at the right time, especially on defense, was problematic.
“The better he plays, the more he helps us win,” Pearl said. “You shoot a couple of pictures, and you feel really good about it.”
Traore saw action in all 19 games and averaged 10.9 minutes of action per contest. He made 20-45 field goals (44.4 percent), 5-24 threes, and really struggled at the foul line, hitting just 8-23. He averages 1.5 rebounds per contest and has four assists, 11 turnovers and two blocked shots.
“He’s feeling better because he hit a few shots, which is great because after that, maybe he’ll continue to rebound better or defend better,” Pearl said. “We play 10 or 11 players and our strength has been our depth. It’s great to see the players step up and contribute, improve and help us win.”
Johnny Broome, Auburn’s oldest player and second in scoring, said Traore has a lot of potential. “You’re special,” Broome declared. “He’s talented, and everyone in the team knows that.
“Lately he’s had a lot of good practices — great practices, I think,” Broome added. Not only was he hitting shots, his level of communication increased. He was bouncing better, just getting into positions faster and executing on the offensive end.
“He showed up in the game,” Broome said. “The thing you will see is his defensive communication when we are on the field with him. He talks so much more than that.”
Traore and Broome will be back in action at 8 p.m. CST Wednesday at the Neville Arena versus Texas A&M in a game that will be televised on ESPN2. Auburn has a record of 16-3 in the contest and is 6-1 in the SEC in a five-game winning streak.
The Aggies, who upset Auburn in the SEC Championship last season and lost at Neville Arena, are 13-6 overall and 5-1 in the SEC.
Auburn Notes: Junior striker Chris MooreIt’s a “game time decision” on whether or not to play against the Aggies, Pearl, who has missed the last three games due to a shoulder separation, said. Moore started all 16 games before he was hit and averaged 6.0 points and 2.7 rebounds. Allen Flanigan Starting with a small forward in place of Moore… The Tigers entered the game ranked second nationally in three-point defense, allowing opponents to connect on 25.1 percent of those attempts. The Aggies average 6.2 hits per game while hitting 31.5 percent of those attempts. Overall, Auburn ranks ninth nationally in field goal defense with 38.4 percent… Auburn averages 5.9 blocked shots per game, which ranks fifth nationally.
Wendell Green He leads the SEC in free throw percentage (. 836) after hitting 36 of his last 40. The rookie has notched 25 in a row, two shy of the AU’s record of 27. Dangel Purefoy In 2016-17 and Frankie Sullivan In the 2009-10… Green scored double-doubles for (16) and assists (12) last Saturday. The last Tiger to do so for points/assists was with 12 points and 11 assists against Georgia on January 19, 2022… Green now has four collegiate double-doubles… Texas A&M leads the series vs. Auburn 13-6 including That 67-62 win in the previous meeting in the 2022 SEC Championship in Tampa… Auburn’s 28-game winning streak on home soil is the longest of any Division I team. UCLA is next at 19… SEC opponents averaging just 21.7 points in the first half against Texas A&M. The Aggies allow opponents to shoot only 27.3% in the first half of a game. A&M allowed Florida only 12 points in the first half. The previous lowest against an SEC opponent by the Aggies was 13 against LSU? in 2016.