Auburn Basketball Game 2, Preview/Notes

The Auburn basketball Tigers face a major challenge a long way from home in the middle of the night as they take on the Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder.

Bruce Pearl’s Auburn Tigers are going to need a high-level performance as they have a late Monday night basketball game in the mountains where they will take on the University of Colorado Buffaloes.

Tipoff is set for 11 p.m. MST in Boulder, which is midnight in Auburn. The teams each bring a 1-0 record into the contest, which will be televised on ESPN2 as part of that network’s 24 hours of basketball promotion.

Auburn opened the Pearl Era with an 83-73 comeback victory at home on Friday vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Colorado opened its season with a 65-48 homecourt victory at the Coors Event Center vs. Drexel.

“It’s going to be a great challenge playing against a Top 25 program and a team that is really well coached by Tad Boyle,” Pearl said. “I personally have been a big fan of his for many years.

“We go out there and we may be short-handed with Tahj (Shamsid-Deen) battling the shoulder (injury) and Antoine (Mason) battling the ankle (sprain),” Pearl said. “Colorado’s size will be a factor. We love to run, they love to run.”

Bruce Pearl is shown at his regular season debut as Auburn's head coach.

Monday’s matchup will be played at an elevation at 5,430 feet. The only previous game between the Tigers and Buffaloes was at the beach back in 1996. Colorado won an overtime game, 78-72, at the Big Island Invitational, a tournament in Hilo, Hawaii.

Awaiting in Boulder will be a team that returns 13 lettermen plus five starters from a program that has made three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. The Buffaloes have a 61-9 homecourt record with Boyle as head coach.

Colorado is picked to finish third in the Pac-12 behind Arizona and Utah. Josh Scott, a 6-10, 245 junior, is a first team all-conference pick who averaged 14.1 points and 8.4 rebounds last season for Colorado.

The Graduates: Auburn’s two transfers who joined the team this summer after graduating from other colleges got off to strong starts in their AU debuts. Antoine Mason scored 19 points as a starter and fellow guard K.C. Ross-Miller added 13 points in a reserve role.

Double-Double: The most impressive debut, however, was by juco transfer Cinmeon Bowers, who scored 18 points while pulling in 17 rebounds, the most for a Tiger since Korvotney Barber got 18 boards in a game back in 2009.

Double-Double, Part 2: The last Tiger to pull off a double-double in a season opener was Kenny Gabriel with 18 points and 13 rebounds in the inaugural game at Auburn Arena in 2010.

Double-Double, Part 3: The last Tiger to post a double-double in his Auburn debut was David Hamilton, who scored 11 points to go with 10 rebounds to open the 1998-99 season. Hamilton returned to Auburn this past summer for a letterman’s event to meet the new coaching staff.

Practice Makes Perfect: Junior forward Jordon Granger has been working on his long-range shooting in the offseason. He was 0-2 on three-pointers last season, but made both of his treys vs. Milwaukee as well as the other shot he took.

Notable Quotable: Pearl on why he agreed to play a strong opponent on the road, at midnight, at high altitude for his first road game of the season:

“For me to be a part of ESPN’s 24 hours of college basketball, there are a couple of things. First of all, I’m sure when ESPN called a lot schools and said, ‘Do you want to go to Colorado and play at one o’clock in the morning Eastern Time?’ they didn’t get a lot of bite. But the big picture, I want our basketball program part of ESPN’s marathon. I want our basketball program to eventually become a part of some of the better holiday tournaments. You have to start somewhere. And the fact that we get Colorado to come back is a real treat for our fans because they are such a good team.

“Road trips do bring you together,” Pearl added. “I love to travel with the team. Part of the college experience and being a student-athlete is seeing the country and even seeing the world. That Rocky Mountain high is going to be beautiful and it’s going to be snow-capped. For our kids to have that different experience, it’s part of the college experience.”

Flying Tigers: Auburn flew to Colorado by commercial plane and will take a charter flight home immediately after the game to get the players back in time to attend classes on Tuesday.

Up Next: The Tigers will play game three at home on Friday vs. Louisiana-Lafayette. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.

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