Auburn Basketball Game 13 Preview/Notes

Coach Bruce Pearl's Auburn basketball Tigers return to action with a home game vs. North Alabama.

Cinmeon Bowers (above) goes high for a rebound.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn will be looking to extend its winning streak to five games when the Tigers play host to the University of North Alabama with a noon tipoff on Saturday.

The contest will be Auburn’s final game before opening SEC play on Tuesday at Vanderbilt. The Tigers are coming off one of their better performances of the season with a comfortable 64-48 victory over Tennessee State. The Tigers led by as many as 22 points in that contest.

North Alabama, which plays in the Gulf South Conference, has a 5-6 record. The Lions are averaging 78.7 points per game and allowing 82.5 while making 44.6 percent of their field goals and 32.9 percent of their three-pointers.

Jere Vuica, a six-foot-eight forward, is averaging 12.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game for North Alabama while six-foot-six forward Calvin Dade is averaging 12.6 points and 7.5 rebounds. Nathan Spehr, a 5-10 guard, is averaging 13.6 points per contest.

In their last game the Lions ended a three-game losing streak with an 87-83 conference road win vs. Shorter.

Auburn junior forward Cinmeon Bowers notes the Tigers are focused on themselves. “Our goal is to get better as a team so we wil be ready for the SEC,” he tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. “We want to go out there and play hard against anybody we play.”

Individually, the juco transfer points out that during the holiday season with no classes he has spent extra time working on his shooting and overall offensive play. “In games the key for me to is rebound,” he says. “When I am doing that it is a lot easier to score.”

Bowers is averaging 11.3 rebounds per game, which ranks fifth in the country. His scoring average of 13.2 points per game is third on the team behind K.T. Harrell (17.3) and Antoine Mason (15.0). His season-high of 17 rebounds vs. both Milwaukee and Winthrop is the most by any SEC player this season.

K.T. Harrell is a senior guard for the Tigers.

Bowers, who is listed on the team roster at 278 pounds, says he has trimmed down since the start of the season. “I weigh 267 now. I want to get down to 250, but I can’t make too big of a change during the season because I want to make sure I keep my strength.”

lTigers Vs. North Alabama: Auburn leads the series 3-0, but has not played the Lions in more than 50 years. Coach Bruce Pearl, a former Division II coach at Southern Indiana, said he scheduled the game vs. a Division II opponent because he believes in giving teams from that level a chance to play vs. Division I opponents. Pearl’s record at Southern Indiana was 231-46.

“Having been a Division II coach for nine years, I knew what it was like to have the opportunity to play against a Division I team and I knew how excited our kids were," Pearl says. "Playing a Division II team does not affect your RPI and that’s one of the reasons we are playing this game versus a Division I with a high RPI number.

"Right now our RPI is at (113), which is really a good position. You either play another team in the Top 100 or you play Division II club. The question is why North Alabama? We played West Alabama in an exhibition game and now we are playing these guys. It’s just the right thing to do. They are in our state.

"I know how excited they are going to be to play us and obviously we have to try not to have any letdowns, trying to look ahead towards conference play. They play a really nice tempo. They are not afraid to run, they’re really good in transition, they shoot the ball well and they are well coached.”

TV Coverage: The game will be televised on the SEC Network with former Tiger Daymeon Fishback as the game analyst.

Game Promotions: Tickets for the bleachers are $10 and Auburn’s players will be available for autographs after the game.

Seeing Improvement: Pearl had these comments on his team, which has a 7-5 record going into Saturday's game. “I think we continue to make progress. We have established an identity for ourselves defensively and we just have to continue to build.”

Up Next: Auburn opens league play on Tuesday at Vanderbilt with an 8 p.m. CST tipoff with TV coverage on ESPNU.

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