For the fourth time in eight seasons under Ospreys head coach Matthew Driscoll, North Florida will open the season in SEC country. UNF has its deepest team. Obviously making the NCAA Tournament, NIT and winning back-to-back ASUN regular-season titles has lured the recruits.
The Ospreys lost star seniors Beau Beech, Demarcus Daniels and Trent Mackey. That’s a lot of points. Will Dallas Moore have to score close to 30 in each Power 5 non-conference game? The opener will provide many answers for North Florida and Auburn.
Auburn and North Florida have met once previously. That was on Dec. 17, 2011 when the Tigers won 84-71.
The Ospreys will face three other SEC squads this season. This one is winnable, but UNF possibly stands a better chance at LSU next Friday.
ASUN Player of the Year Dallas Moore will be the best player on the court Friday. In his last two season openers for the Ospreys, the senior has scored at least 20. He is on pace to score the 2nd-most points in ASUN history.
Danjel Purifoy sat out last season, but did practice with Auburn. The 6-foot-7 freshman looks like a pro. He was the start of Bruce Pearl landing solid recruit after solid recruit. Purifoy will be hungry to take over. Nevertheless, it is the youngest lineup Pearl will start since he started coaching 35 years ago.
The Ospreys will go with Dallas Moore, Aaron Bodager, Nick Malonga, Chris Davenport and Romelo Banks.
Auburn has Jared Harper, T.J. Dunans, Mustapha Heron, Danjel Purifoy and Horace Spencer.
About Auburn Tigers:
It’s the start of the third season under head coach Bruce Pearl. Last year he was able to put together a top-25 recruiting class. And he’s been the talk of the SEC this week with another killer recruiting class. But it is still football season for Auburn fans.
Even though the Tigers have sold out season tickets and will have every game on television for a third straight season, the Auburn faithful could be looking at the football team’s game at Georgia.
This Auburn squad can sniff the NIT. It might take another year or two before the Tigers are in the top-three or -four of the SEC. Right when Austin Wiley will be getting into a groove and have special players around him.
Romelo Banks will be the tallest starter of the 10 Ospreys and Tigers. The 6-foot-11 center started every game during the North Florida NCAA Tournament run two years ago. He seems hungrier and hustles more, and most of it is due to his maturity.
The Tigers are capable of going nine to 11 players deep. Bruce Pearl is getting Auburn back to where he had the Tennessee Volunteers. Can UNF break through Auburn’s press defense?
How UNF Can Win:
Avoid live-ball turnovers.
Everyone said in the off-season the Tigers are light in the bucket at the five-spot. Production or bodies in the paint will open up the #BirdsOfTrey from where they are so comfortable.
Some kind of contribution from the new faces. The Ospreys have Aaron Horne, Garrett Sams, C.J. Fisher and Wajid Aminu who can come in to battle for bench minutes. Aminu could immediately stun people with his skill-set and athleticism.
We wouldn’t be shocked if the Ospreys win. However, this is Bruce Pearl’s most-talented team since he’s been at Auburn. Bold to schedule North Florida so early in the season.