The Tigers had a great opportunity for a road victory vs. Texas Tech on Wednesday in the SEC-Big XII Challenge, but let that slip away in a 46-44 loss that dropped their record to 3-3.
Next up could be a more difficult opponent as former Auburn coach Cliff Ellis brings his Chanticleers to Auburn for an 8 p.m. CST tipoff that will be televised on Fox Sports Net.
“Today is the worst day since I have been on the Auburn campus,” Pearl said on Thursday as he prepared his Tigers for a quick-turnaround. “I am very disappointed with last night--with the results.
“I really appreciate the effort of our team,” he said. “I appreciate the way we competed and defended, but the offensive execution wasn’t good. We put ourselves in position to win the game and we didn’t capitalize.”
Pearl and his Tigers arrived back on campus early Thursday morning short on sleep and a victory they needed to stay on the plus side of .500.
“We have the shortest turnaround that we will have,” the coach pointed out. “This may not have been the smartest move I have made as far as timing is concerned.
“I think in the big picture it is worth doing,” he added. “We have worked really hard to get some Friday night games when the football team was here, and it really paid off because we had great support. There was not much of a window to schedule this game.
“Coastal Carolina is a really good team and they are one of the most complex teams that we will play,” Pearl points out. “Cliff is a great coach and he has done some really good things.
Friday's game will be Pearl's third regular season home as head coach of the Tigers.
“It is the kind of team that you would like to have some time to prepare for. That is not how it is with every team. It just is with this team. Another late night return, 2:30 a.m., class this morning for the kids, finals are coming up, so we are really up against it. We are going to have to rally.”
Ellis brings a team to Auburn that is 5-2. Last year the Chanticleers won the Big South Tournament and a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Four starters are back from that group and are helping Coastal Carolina outscore opponents by an average of 17.1 points per game.
Josh Cameron, a 6-1 senior guard, is the leading scorer with an average of 14.6 points per game followed by 6-3 senior guard Warren Gillis (12.0) and 5-10 sophomore guard Shivaughn Wiggins (10.4).
Badou Diagne, a 6-7, 220 junior, is the leading rebounder for Coastal Carolina at 7.3 per game to go with 7.4 points per contest. The other starter, 6-4 sophomore guard Elijah Wilson, is averaging 8.0 points and 3.7 rebounds.
The Chanticleers lead the Big South in field goal defense, allowing opponents to make just 35.2 percent of their shots. They also lead in three-point defense allowing opponents to make just 26.9 percent. The Chanticleers are hitting 44.0 percent of their field goals and 34.7 percent of their threes.
Coastal Carolina’s two losses were both on the road. The Chanticleers lost 84-71 at UCLA and 68-57 at Chattanooga.
Ellis Vs. Auburn: Ellis, who was fired by Auburn after the 2003-04 season, is 2-0 all-time in games vs. the Tigers. He led South Alabama to a 95-73 victory in 1973 and his Clemson team defeated Auburn 84-72 in 1983. Ellis finished with a 177-128 record in 10 seasons at the Tigers. He led Auburn to three NCAA Tournaments including a No. 1 seed after winning the 1999 SEC Championship.
Cliff Ellis (left) is shown with another former Auburn coach, Sonny Smith, at a 2014 AU Basketball Reunion.
Tigers vs. Chanticleers: The only time Auburn has played Coastal Carolina was in 1995, an 82-66 victory for an Auburn team coached by Ellis.
Fishback Back: One of top players for Ellis at Auburn, guard Daymeon Fishback, will be the analyst for the FSN telecast of the game.
Coaching Matchup: This will be the first time Pearl and Ellis have had their teams play.
Auburn Vs. Big South: Auburn is 14-6 vs. members of the Big South Conference. Coastal Carolina is 3-12 against current members of the SEC.
Not Healed Yet: Senior guard Antoine Mason, who has missed the last five games, is listed as questionable for Friday’s game. Pearl noted that Mason was not close to being ready to play on Wednesday after returning to practice on Sunday. "I think everyone anticipated him being back sooner, including Antoine," the coach said.
Up Next: The Tigers will focus on final exams before taking the court again on Dec. 14th with a road game vs. Clemson.