Las Vegas, Nev.--Strong defense by Tulsa combined with poor shooting by the Tigers doomed Auburn on Monday night in a 53-35 basketball loss to the Golden Hurricane in the MGM Grand Main Event Tournament.
Except for 17 points and 15 rebounds from junior Cinmeon Bowers, it was a rough night for Coach Bruce Pearl’s players, who hit just 2-22 threes against Tulsa’s zone defense. Overall, the Tigers were outshot 48.7 to 31.3 percent.
“Cinmeon was the only guy we were able to put out there tonight who had any production,” Pearl said. Bowers hit 7-15 field goals and 3-4 foul shots and produced his fourth double-double in four games as a Tiger.
Pearl noted that his players are embarrassed they didn’t have a better performance coming off a 105-point outing vs. Louisiana-Lafayette. “I knew we were capable of night like this if we got in foul trouble and didn’t shoot the ball well,” the coach said.
Tulsa burned Auburn with hot three-point shooting. Coming into the game the Golden Hurricane, which improved to 3-1, had hit just 10-43 treys. However, against the Tigers they made 9-17 three-pointers as Auburn focused its defense on stopping Tulsa's inside game.
The Tigers only got to the foul line six times and made just three on a night they were 15-48 from the field. Auburn, which has been good at avoiding turnovers, struggled with its ball control with 23 turnovers while forcing 20 turnovers. Auburn managed to out-rebound Tulsa 30-28.
The Tigers led 16-12 early in the game, but got into early foul trouble and fell behind by seven points at intermission. After that they struggled with their shooting in the second half and were never able to make a run. The Tigers made just 6-22 second half shots.
K.T. Harrell, who came into the contest leading the Tigers in scoring at 21.3 points per game, hit just 1-7 field goals, was 0-2 at the foul line and had more turnovers (five) than points (two).
Malcolm Canada plays defense on Monday night in Las Vegas.
Other than Bowers no Tiger scored in double figures or even got close to it. Malcolm Canada was the second leading scorer with six points.
"Tulsa is a good team, they are not a great team," Pearl said. "You would like to think you got beat by a great team. They played really well. They made shots and they controlled tempo."
Halftime Numbers: The Tigers hit 9-19 field goals, 2-4 free throws and were 1-10 on threes at the break. Auburn held a 17-12 rebounding edge, but had a dozen turnovers, two more than Tulsa. Bowers scored eight first half points and pulled down 11 rebounds.
Tulsa hit 6-9 three-pointers to take a 28-21 halftime lead. The Hurricane hit 8-25 field goals and 4-9 free throws.
Mason Still Out: Antoine Mason missed a third straight game with an ankle injury and Pearl noted he is not sure when the high-scoring graduate student would be cleared to play.
Auburn Starters: Harrell, Bowers, Tajh Shamsid-Deen, Jordon Granger and K.C. Ross-Miller, the starting lineup from the previous game, opened vs. Tulsa. Ross-Miller, who got into early foul trouble, did not score.
Slow Night For Fast Breaks: "Our point guards did not advance the ball," said Pearl, who noted the Tigers scored just two fastbreak points.
Stat of the Night: Starters Harrell, Ross-Miller, Shamsid-Deen and Ross-Miller combined to hit 4-19 field goals and turned the ball over 15 times.
Up Next: Oregon State, a 66-53 loser to Oklahoma State, will be Auburn’s next opponent on Wednesday night.
Going Deep: With guards in foul trouble, Pearl played walk-on Cole Stockton for five minutes. He was 0-3 from the field, ut managed a rebound and drew a charge.