Harris era begins as Tigers host Georgia Southern

AUBURN, Ala. – The Johnnie Harris era officially begins Thursday night as the Auburn women’s basketball team hosts Georgia Southern at Auburn Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m. CT.
 
Thursday is Veterans Day, and the game is part of Auburn’s Military Appreciation Week. All active and retired personnel can show a military ID at the ticket office for a free general admission ticket. In addition, Thursday’s game is part of the Beat Bama Food Drive; fans can bring a non-perishable food item and receive free admission as well.
 
The Tigers begin their 51st season of varsity basketball looking to win their home opener for the 43rd consecutive year. Harris makes her head coaching debut following more than two decades as an assistant, which included three Final Four trips and a national championship.
 
Auburn fans got an early look at the 2021-22 edition of the Tigers as they defeated Miles College last Thursday in an exhibition game, 102-42. Six players scored in double-figures for Auburn, led by a 20-point night from sophomore Aicha Coulibaly and a 12-point, 16-rebound double-double from redshirt senior Kiyae’ White.
 
Georgia Southern was 11-13 in 2020-21, 5-9 in Sun Belt play. The Eagles were picked to finish ninth in the Sun Belt by the league’s coaches. They are led by sophomore forward Terren Ward, who was the 2021 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year and named to the preseason All-Sun Belt Team.
 
In addition to the free admission opportunities listed above, single-game and season tickets are still available at the Auburn Arena Ticket Office or by calling 855-282-2010 or visiting AUBTix.com.
 
ON THE AIR
››          Brit Bowen and Larry DiChiara will call the action on WQSI 93.9 FM and online at AuburnTigers.com and the official Auburn Tigers mobile app; airtime is 6:45 p.m. CT.
››          The game can be seen on SEC Network +, available via WatchESPN.com or the ESPN app for mobile devices and smart TVs. Brad Law and Joe Ciampi have the call.
 
THE HARRIS ERA BEGINS
››          Johnnie Harris was named Auburn’s seventh women’s basketball coach on April 3, 2021.
››          Harris came to Auburn after spending the last 17 years at Arkansas, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Texas, helping those teams to three Final Fours and a national championship.
››          She helped lead Mississippi State to a 221-62 record and five NCAA Tournament appearances, including trips to the national championship game in 2017 and 2018. During that time, MSU also won the program’s first SEC regular-season and tournament titles. She also helped lead Texas to the 2021 Elite Eight in her only season on staff in Austin.
››          Known as a tireless recruiter, she played a key role in inking some of the top signing classes in MSU history. The fall of 2018 saw MSU sign the nation’s 6th-ranked class, the best in program history.
››          Joining Harris on the Plains are associate head coach Bob Starkey and assistant coaches Damitria Buchanan and Ketara Chapel. Starkey is a veteran of 30+ years in the SEC, winning championships at LSU and Texas A&M. Buchanan and Chapel played for Harris at Texas A&M and Mississippi State, respectively, and are among the nation’s top recruiters.
 
LAST TIME OUT
››          Senior Kiyae’ White recorded a double-double, and six players finished in double-figures as the Auburn women’s basketball team stormed past Miles College 102-42 Thursday night in exhibition play at Auburn Arena.
››          Although it was an unofficial game, the Tigers topped the century mark for the first time inside Auburn Arena. The last 100-point game for Auburn came in 2008, a 119-54 win over Sam Houston State inside Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.
››          White’s 12-point, 16-rebound night helped pace the Tigers, who saw 11 of 12 available players find the scoresheet. Sophomore Aicha Coulibaly led all scorers with 20 points along with seven rebounds, three steals and two assists.
››          Honesty Scott-Grayson scored 19, freshman Mar’Shaun Bostic had 12 along with three steals and four assists, and Annie Hughes scored 11 points to go along with a team-high six assists, six rebounds and three steals. Xaria Wiggins added 10 points off the bench.
 
AN AUBURN WIN WOULD…
››          Give coach Johnnie Harris her first head coaching victory.
››          Be Auburn’s 43rd straight win in a home opener.
››          Improve the Tigers’ all-time record in season-openers to 42-9.
››          Improve Auburn’s record against Georgia Southern to 6-1.
››          Be the 99th all-time win in Auburn Arena.
 
AUBURN-GEORGIA SOUTHERN SERIES
››          This is the seventh meeting between Auburn and Georgia Southern, the fifth in Auburn. The teams last met in the 2013 season opener, where the Tigers won 69-59 at Auburn Arena.
››          Auburn is 99-13 against current members of the Sun Belt Conference. The Tigers have won 47 consecutive games against current Sun Belt opponents, dating back to 1985.
 
SCOUTING GEORGIA SOUTHERN
››          Georgia Southern finished 11-13 in 2020-21 with a 5-9 mark in Sun Belt play. The Eagles were picked to finish ninth in the Sun Belt in a vote of the league’s coaches.
››          The Eagles were one of the nation’s top defensive teams a year ago, ranking in the top 15 in the nation in rebounds (45.2/game) and steals (10.9/game).
››          Terren Ward was named to the preseason All-Sun Belt third team after being named the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year in 2020-21. She averaged 7.9 points and 4.6 rebounds last year and is the team’s returning leader in both categories.
 
SCOUTING AUBURN
››          Auburn returns 3 starters and 9 letterwinners from its 2020-21 team that finished 5-19 overall, 0-15 in SEC play.
››          Redshirt junior Honesty Scott-Grayson is the Tigers’ leading returner in most statistical categories: scoring (14.5 ppg), rebounding (4.1 rpg), assists (1.7 apg), steals (2.1 spg) and shooting (.406 FG/.301 3FG/.761 FT).
››          Junior Sania Wells and sophomore Aicha Coulibaly are expected to have a major impact on the Tigers in 2021-22. Wells will return to her natural position of point guard; she averaged 3.3 points, 0.8 rebounds and 0.8 assists last season. Coulibaly averaged 5.1 points and 3.1 rebounds as a freshman.
››          Junior Annie Hughes and redshirt senior Kiyae’ White look to be a part of the Tigers’ regular rotation as well. Hughes is the only Tiger to appear in every game each of the last two seasons; she averaged 3.0 points and 2.0 rebounds in 20-21. White missed all but one game last season, but as a redshirt sophomore in 2019-20, she averaged 4.0 points and 4.8 rebounds.
››          Transfers Xaria Wiggins and Paris Mullins look to provide depth off the bench for the Tigers, along with freshmen Amoura Graves and Mar’Shaun Bostic.
››          The Tigers will be without sophomore Romi Levy for the 2021-22 season after she suffered a torn ACL in practice just before the start of the season.
 
AUBURN IN SEASON OPENERS
››          In 50 previous seasons, Auburn has put together a 41-9 record in season openers (home or away) and sports a 29-3 record when opening the season at home.
››          In the SEC era (since 1980), Auburn is 37-4 in season openers.
››          The Tigers are winners of their last 29 season openers at home with the last time Auburn lost being a 71-56 loss to Talladega in the 1977-78 opener. Auburn has also won their first home game of the season 42 straight years.
 
UP NEXT
››          Auburn hits the road for the first time as they travel to Norfolk, Va., to face Old Dominion. Game time is 1 p.m. CT Sunday, Nov. 14, with a broadcast on ESPN+.
››          The Tigers’ next home game is Tuesday, Nov. 16, against Alabama State.
 

–Auburn Women’s Basketball–
5-Time SEC Champions | 4-Time SEC Tournament Champions | 3 Final Fours

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