Auburn basketball vs. West Virginia: Our scouting report, score prediction

AUBURN — Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl was a 24-year-old assistant at Stanford the last time the Tigers went on the road to Morgantown for a game against West Virginia.

The Tigers topped the Mountaineers in that one nearly 40 years ago, and Pearl will be looking for a similar result this time around. No. 16 Auburn (16-4, 6-2 SEC) lost to Texas A&M on Wednesday, snapping a 28-game home winning streak that began in February 2021.

West Virginia (12-8, 2-6 Big 12) started the season 11-2, but lost its first five games of conference play before finally picking up a win over then-No. 13 TCU. The Mountaineers notched their second win against a Big 12 foe Wednesday, beating Texas Tech handily, 76-61.

Auburn and West Virginia are scheduled to matchup Saturday (11 a.m. CT, ESPN) in WVU Coliseum, a venue the Mountaineers are 8-3 in this season.

Here's a scouting report for the game, and our score prediction.

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Don't be fooled by the record

The Big 12 is a bloodbath that features six teams currently ranked in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll, including No. 5 Kansas State, No. 9 Kansas, No. 10 Texas, No. 11 TCU, No. 13 Iowa State and No. 17 Baylor. Four of West Virginia's conference losses have come against one of those teams, and the Mountaineers even managed to score a win over TCU on Jan. 18.

Before Big 12 play started, West Virginia also lost against Purdue and Xavier, which are currently ranked No. 3 and No. 8, respectively. The schedule for the Mountaineers has been brutal.

Various rankings and ratings systems also like West Virginia. The Mountaineers are slotted in the No. 21 spot in KenPom and No. 24 in the NET, which would make them the highest-rated team Auburn has played so far this season in either system.

A balanced, experienced offensive attack

Similar to Auburn, there isn't a single player on West Virginia's roster that is a dominant scorer.

The Mountaineers have four players averaging double-digit points: Erik Stevenson (13.1), Tre Mitchell (12.6), Joe Toussaint (10.6) and Kedrian Johnson (10.4). Stevenson, Toussaint and Johnson are all guards 6-foot-4 or under, and Mitchell is a 6-foot-9 forward. Forward Emmit Matthews Jr. also puts up 9.6 points per game. Each of West Virginia's top-five scorers are either seniors or fifth-year players.

Stevenson leads the Mountaineers with 101 3-pointers attempted and has knocked down 34.7% of them. Toussaint is a 32.8% shooter from deep with 64 attempts and sophomore guard Seth Wilson has hit 42.1% of his 57 shots from beyond the 3-point this season.

Toussaint comes off the bench. Stevenson, Mitchell, Johnson and Matthews start along with 6-foot-10 senior Jimmy Bell Jr.

Auburn Tigers forward Johni Broome (4) looks to go up as Auburn Tigers take on Texas A&M Aggies at Neville Arena in Auburn, Ala., on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. Texas A&M Aggies leads Auburn Tigers 45-30 at halftime.
Auburn Tigers forward Johni Broome (4) looks to go up as Auburn Tigers take on Texas A&M Aggies at Neville Arena in Auburn, Ala., on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. Texas A&M Aggies leads Auburn Tigers 45-30 at halftime.

The bench is deep

Also a noteworthy parallel to Auburn, the Mountaineers have a deep bench coach Bob Huggins reaches into. Nobody on West Virginia averages over 30 minutes per game and about 10 players are a part of the rotation.

There are nine Mountaineers who've made at least 18 appearances for West Virginia this season and all of them average over 10 minutes per game, with seven above 14.5. Of those seven, six are upperclassmen; Williams is the exception.

Score prediction

West Virginia 70, Auburn 65: The Mountaineers have done a solid job defending WVU Coliseum this season and are a much more battle-tested group than the Tigers. Auburn competes and Johni Broome logs another double-double, but West Virginia gets the win and sends the Tigers home with back-to-back losses for the first time this season.

Richard Silva is the Auburn athletics beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. He can be reached via email at or on Twitter @rich_silva18.

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Auburn basketball vs. West Virginia: Scouting report, score prediction