Auburn ready to turn up the pace against Wahoos

MINNEAPOLIS, Mn. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- While Virginia makes their first Final Four appearance in 35 years, this is uncharted territory for an Auburn program making their first ever appearance.

The story of their matchup with the Wahoos is pace. The Tigers have averaged 85 points per game through their first four NCAA Tournament games. Meanwhile, Virginia has not allowed 85 or more points since an overtime loss to Pittsburgh in the 2016-2017 season.

“Virginia is probably the most efficient team in college basketball because they’re like in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency," Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl said, "But [Auburn's players] also have confidence in each other, and they also have confidence in what we do."

Auburn's road to the Final Four has been filled with some of college basketball's top programs, including Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky. So while they have not faced an opponent like Virginia, the Tigers feel they are well tested.

“With our play style if we’re down right, we can easily make three 3’s in a row because we play so fast, so we don’t really be down by a little bit of a deficit," junior forward Anfernee McLemore said, "So we’re going to try to approach the game the same way as we did with Tennessee and just try to speed them up and make them uncomfortable.”

The Tigers bring in the nation's longest active winning streak at 12-games, with their last loss coming in February. Despite another tough opponent, players feel confident in the game plan.

“Try to speed the pace up, we know they want to play slow and they play a packline defense, so it’s going to be tough to get normal shots that we get," junior guard Amir Doughty said, "But we got a few things that we got that’s going to be able to expose their defense a little.”

With a Virginia defense that allows so little, Auburn knows when they get an open shot they need to take advantage.

"We’re going to get some open looks," Coach Pearl said, "We’re going to get some open looks, and we’d better knock them down.”



 
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