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Bruce Pearl Says the Auburn Basketball Team Needs to Get Tougher

Coach Bruce Pearl talks about the Auburn basketball team following a scrimmage that featured a double-double from newcomer Tyler Harris.

Tyler Harris (above with ball) looks to push the ball to create a fastbreak situation at Saturday's scrimmage.

Auburn, Ala.--Newcomer Tyler Harris was the most productive performer in Auburn's  preseason basketball scrimmage on Saturday that Coach Bruce Pearl labeled as too sloppy for his liking.

Pearl also said his Tigers need to be tougher, which has been a point of emphasis in practice this week.

“We are not a very physical team,” he said. “We play hard, but we are not very physical. We worked on rebounding, we worked on taking charges, rotating. I thought we made some progress in that regard.

“It’s sloppy, it’s early,” Pearl said of his team’s development with the season opener vs. UAB slightly more than a month away. “You can see some guys stepping forward in what they are doing. We have just got to keep getting better.”

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Coach Bruce Pearl makes a point at Saturday's scrimmage.

A player who got the attention of the coach is Tyler Harris, a six-foot-ten forward, a graduate student transfer from Providence College. Harris hit 8-15 field goals in the scrimmage on his way to becoming the leading scorer with 18 points and the top rebounder with 12.

“I thought Tyler was a factor inside with his rebounding and he made a lot of good plays,” said Pearl, who noted the Tigers were the SEC’s worst rebounding team last season.

“I think you see we have more weapons out there,” he said. “The shooting percentages have been very, very high. Is it because we are playing against ourselves and our defense is terrible or is it because we are a really good defensive team. I don’t know yet.”

Pearl does seem certain that Harris is a player who can help on the boards and with scoring. “He is a guy who does a lot of nice things inside and out,” the coach pointed out. “He is very solid.”

Harris said that he likes what Pearl’s Tigers do. “It is a great offense for me to play in,” he noted, adding that he is looking forward to seeing what Auburn can do this season. “We have got a lot of depth on this team, a lot of talent,” he said.

Harris pointed out that the Tigers are a work in progress with the team counting on so many newcomers. “We are all learning from each other to make us better,” he said, adding that he likes the roster’s depth. “We can play with 10 guys on this team.”

Junior point guard Kareem Canty scored 16 points, but had an off-day as a ball-handler with six turnovers to go with three assists. Pearl noted that was not typical of how Canty has performed this preseason.

Cinmeon Bowers showed his improved quickness and finished the scrimmage with 15 points while making 6-8 field goals. Bowers added six rebounds, which was the second highest total.

Cinmeon Bowers is shown in action during Saturday's scrimmage. The senior forward is headed into his second season with the Tigers.

Tajh Shamsid-Deen scored 13 points while walk-on guard Jonathan Walker, who was 4-5 on treys, scored 12 points and freshman guard Danjel Purifoy finished with 10 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. The Tigers are still waiting for word on whether Purifoy will be cleared academically to play this season.

Walk-on guard Cole Stockton scored nine points, T.J. Dunans scored eight points while adding a scrimmage-high five assists, T.J. Lang scored seven points and freshman guard New Williams scored five points. Devin Waddell added three points, Jordon Granger added two and Horace Spencer had one point and four rebounds.

Freshman guard Bryce Brown was held out of the scrimmage. “New Williams landed on his ankle in practice on Wednesday,” Pearl said, who noted the Tigers will work on their full-court game in the coming practices. “If this was a game he could have played today.”

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