Forget everything you saw out of Auburn before Sharife Cooper was finally granted eligibility on Jan. 9.
Since then, Auburn is 2-1 straight up and 2-0-1 against the spread, with the lone defeat coming vs. Alabama in a 94-90 loss. And as a quick reminder, the Crimson Tide is 7-0 in SEC play with six wins by at least eight points and five wins by margins of 18, 15, 20, 31 and 30 points, including last night’s 105-75 decapitation of LSU in Baton Rouge.
Since the narrow loss to the Tide, Auburn has won 95-77 at Georgia and 66-59 vs. Kentucky.
In short, Cooper is ‘as advertised’ and then some.
The five-star true freshman point guard is averaging 21.7 points, 9.7 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. Cooper has been the best player on the court in every game, and he’s making all of his teammates better.
Without Cooper, this Auburn team was lost after losing four double-figure scorers (Samir Doughty, Isaac Okoro, J’Von McCormick and Austin Wiley) and two other major contributors (Anfernee McLemore and Danjel Purifoy). With Cooper, Bruce Pearl is back in business.
As for Arkansas, it has lost back-to-back games in blowout fashion at LSU (92-76) and at Alabama (90-59). The Hogs have lost four of their last five contests, including an 81-68 home loss to Missouri. The only win they’ve had in SEC play came at home vs. UGA.
We locked Auburn in at +7.5 early, but the Tigers are still the play at +6 or +6.5, where the line was depending on the book as of 2:10 p.m. Eastern.
For money-management purposes, play Auburn catching the points for more. However, get yourself a small taste of Pearl’s team on the money line for a generous +200 return, too.