Andy is a regular sports columnist for Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.

The No. 20 Auburn basketball program, now 12-3 overall and 2-1 in the SEC, has an unusually wide range between its best and worst capability in 2023 and both were on full display last week. The Tigers lost on the road to unranked Georgia by double digits 64-76. Then, turned around and defeated No. 13 Arkansas in Neville Arena by double digits 72-59. Obviously, there are many factors that determine wins and losses in a basketball game, but Auburn's biggest challenge this season has been simply putting the ball through the hoop. Good defense travels and Bruce Pearl's squad is very consistent on that end of the floor. They routinely hold their opponent well below their scoring average and predominantly hold a significant advantage in rebounds. The biggest problem has been scoring. The Tigers are 10th in the SEC in field-goal percentage at 43.4 percent, 11th in free-throw percentage at 67.6 percent and 12th in three-point percentage at 29.2 percent. They were well below all three averages against Georgia and above all three averages against Arkansas. If the shots are falling, Auburn can beat anyone. If they're not, Auburn can lose to anyone.

Point guard Wendell Green Jr and transfer big man Johni Broome have carried the Tigers for most of the year as the two leading scorers averaging 12.7 and 12.9 respectively. Senior Jaylin Williams has also improved his consistency and contribution going from 5.6 points a game last year to averaging 9.8 points this year. He has the talent to be even better but has yet to realize his full potential. Junior Chris Moore has also stepped up his game going from 1.7 points to 6.4 points this season. Unfortunately, those gains are being negated by Allen Flanigan, KD Johnson and Zep Jasper whose scoring averages have dropped in 2023. Jasper's main contribution has always been his defense.

It's the production from Johnson and Flanigan that Auburn desperately misses. KD has really struggled from behind the arc, but frequently gets to the free-throw line and is an excellent free-throw shooter. Flanigan is the biggest mystery. He averaged 14.2 points a game in 2021 and was poised to be a major contributor last year before an off-season Achilles injury set him back significantly. He has since been unable to reproduce anywhere close to the same production from his sophomore season only averaging 8.2 points this year. Flanigan's importance to the Tigers success was clearly evident Saturday night against Arkansas when he scored 18 points and pulled down 8 rebounds in the impressive victory. Auburn really needs him to step up now in SEC play. Someone has to make up the difference from the loss of Jabari Smith who averaged 17 points a game last year. Pearl's freshman this year are contributing next to nothing.

Auburn is a completely different team at home compared to on the road as most teams are in the SEC. Neville Arena may be the biggest home-court advantage in all of college basketball. However, the Tigers will travel to Ole Miss and South Carolina in two of the next four games. Those are both definitely winnable and Auburn has to find a way to take advantage if they want to be a contender.

Andy Graham is a regular columnist for The Outlook.