Auburn basketball dominates first game in Israel
JERUSALEM, Israel – Playing the first of three games in Israel on their international tour, the Auburn men’s basketball team looked impressive with a 117-56 victory over the Israel U-20 National Team on Tuesday at Malha Arena.
Thirteen players scored for the Tigers, including six in double figures. Freshman Yohan Traore led the way with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Traore finished the game in style with a reverse dunk in the closing seconds.
“You can see the talent, you can see the upside, you can see his ability to finish and obviously be able to play in space,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “I think the good thing about our situation is we’ve got a deep team. That’s our strength. Our strength is the fact that we can put 12 guys out there. I thought our kids did a great sharing the minutes and being very unselfish.”
Auburn finished with 32 assists on 46 baskets. Returners Wendell Green Jr. and K.D. Johnson each dished out a team-high five assists while freshman Tre Donaldson added four. Johnson also poured in 13 points and knocked down three 3-pointers.
The center combination of Johni Broome and Dylan Cardwell dominated inside. Broome, a transfer from Morehead State, was second on the team with 17 points, and he also pulled down nine rebounds and blocked a team-best four shots. Cardwell recorded the team’s lone double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds and added three blocks.
“That was the first double-double in my life, I think,” Cardwell said. “It was fun. Hopefully it’s not the last. I just hope I continue to keep us going. That’s my job to go out there and rebound, play defense and play with energy.”
It was a slow start offensively for Auburn, which led 21-8 at the end of the first quarter. But shots started to fall in the second quarter, and the Tigers got a spark from senior Allen Flanigan who made a tough and-1 in transition followed by a 3 from the top of the key to cap a 12-2 run. Flanigan finished with 10 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Auburn took a 57-22 advantage into halftime thanks in large part to the defensive effort.
“Auburn’s defense, especially in the first half, was suffocating,” said ESPN analyst Jay Bilas on the broadcast. “They were together, out in passing lanes, communicating on switches, blocking shots, very alert. It may not have been perfect, no game ever is, but I think Bruce Pearl has to be pleased with how together and tough his team played defensively.”
Freshman Chance Westry, playing his first game in an Auburn uniform, scored 13 points and showed plenty of ability as a versatile 6-foot-6 guard.
Jaylin Williams just missed double figures with nine points. Green, in addition to his five assists, scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds. And Zep Jasper, a returning senior, was an efficient 3 of 4 from the field and added seven points.
The Tigers will return to the court Sunday to play the Israel Select All-Star Team. The game will once again be televised on SEC Network and is set to tip off at noon CT.