Auburn Basketball: SEC Play Begins
The Auburn men’s basketball team begins the SEC season today when they face the Tennessee Volunteers (7 – 5) in the Auburn Arena at 1:00 pm CST. The game is scheduled to be aired on CBS.
It’s been a little bumpy for the Tigers (6 – 5) coming out of the shoot. The team is back from a long Hawaii trip and a somewhat disappointing outing. I don’t think anyone was looking for Auburn to come away from the Diamond Head Classic holding the first place trophy.
However, it was the way the team lost their head-to-head matches that was frustrating. Unfortunately, it was feast or famine in the way the Tigers played. Losing to Harvard and Hawaii by poor shooting, lack of defense, and blown leads gives some concern for how this team could play this year. Nevertheless, there are no early indications for panic. Coach Pearl is still tweaking.
Here is what I have noticed from our team as the Tigers enter into SEC play today against Tennessee.
No doubt the talent is there but keeping that talent healthy looks to be a challenge. Junior guard, Tahj Shamsid-Deen continues with shoulder problems that are are possibly serious enough to force him to miss the whole season. The other point guard, T.J. Dunans, went down hard against Harvard and was carried off the court with a knee injury. TJ Lang has been dealing with a nagging ankle/achilles issue since pre-season. True freshman New Williams tweaked his knee last week during practice. We are still waiting on the ruling to clear Daniel Purifoy, which could be a roster boost.
The injury bug is, as Bruce Pearl stated, “Concerning.” Yet that doesn’t mean a season is lost before it really begins. This is one of the better teams fielded by Auburn in quite a few years, and it is playing with plenty of heart and determination.
The upper classmen need to plow the way for the younger guys. Kareem Canty (junior), Tyler Harris (senior), and Cinmeon Bowers (senior) are the three to watch. Canty is averaging 19 points, Harris is shooting a fantastic 50% from the floor, and Bowers is averaging 9.7 rebounds. If Dunans is healthy, he is averaging 40% behind the 3-point line.
The Volunteers have somewhat mirrored Auburn in their pre-SEC nonconference schedule. To open up the season, they are 7 – 0 at home against smaller programs, but 0 – 5 on the road. That has to bode well for the Tigers, seeing as the game will be played in the Auburn Arena.
Look for a fast paced game and a full house today as the Auburn men hit the reset button and start playing for a spot in the SEC Tournament! War Eagle and …
Beat the Vols!