Kareem Canty is shown at an Auburn practice.
Auburn, Ala.--If Coach Bruce Pearl is correct, Kareem Canty and the other Auburn guards will be challenged on Thursday night as they take on a nationally-ranked Division II?opponent in an exhibition basketball game at Auburn Arena.
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. Central as Auburn and the University of Indianapolis meet for the first time. Tickets, which are either $7 or $10, are available at the arena box office.
“I am anxious to see how our guards respond,” says Pearl, whose team cruised to a 99-59 exhibition victory on Friday night vs. Brevard College.
In that game Canty scored 16 points, one off the team-high total by senior forward Cinmeon Bowers. Canty made four of Auburn’s 14 three-pointers and continued to perform well offensively like he had done in the team’s intrasquad scrimmages.
“Coach Pearl puts me in a position where I don’t have to go hunting shots and can make the easy play,” says Canty, who sat out last season as a transfer from Marshall University. The six-foot-one guard is a junior this season.
Asked what his focus has been in practice this week, Canty says, “I am working at becoming a better defender on ball screens, playing hard each possession and not taking a play off or pacing myself.”
Canty played a team-leading 27 minutes on Friday with the Tigers missing two other guards, sophomore T.J. Lang and freshman Bryce Brown, who were both out with injuries. Those players are expected to be available for action on Thursday vs. the Greyhounds.
With Brown and Lang out freshman guard New Williams played 18 minutes and scored 16 points while hitting 4-6 three-pointers. Another freshman guard, walk-on Zach Allison, played 24 minutes and finished with a team-high eight assists with just two turnovers while scoring six points.
“I was happy for New,” Canty says. “It was his first college game and he scored 16 points and had four rebounds. That is good for a freshman. I love Zach. That is my man.
“It is good for them to play that way because (Coach Pearl) has been hard on them,” Canty points out. “It is fun to see them do well. They are like my little brothers.”
New Williams is a freshman from Santa Monica, Calif., High School.
Pearl says that 6-3 senior Jordan Loyd, a transfer from Furman who averaged 15.6 points and 7.5 assists last year, will be a challenge for Allison and the Tigers to play on Thursday night.
“This will be really good for him to go against them and get ready for UAB and Colorado,” Auburn’s coach says about his walk-on point guard. “As I told you guys, our young guys who had to step up would be ready for it against Brevard and they did. Zach and New particularly did well. This will be a different challenge for them. They have a transfer from Murray State and Furman and Idaho State, and this will be a test for us.”
Indianapolis, which is ranked No. 8 nationally in the coaches Division II preseason poll, dropped a 75-67 exhibition game on Tuesday night a strong Division I opponent, Valparaiso. The winner was in doubt until the final minute.
The Greyhounds, who are coached by one of Pearl’s former players, Stan Gouard, defeated his nationally-ranked Tennessee in an exhibition game 79-64 in 2011.
“Stan Gouard’s Indianapolis team was good enough to beat us at our place,” Pearl says. “They are good enough to beat us at our place this year.”
Pearl adds, “I always tell people that high Division II, and these guys are ranked in the Top 10 in Division II, is better than low Division I because of transfers and because of different things like that. This is a team that has really good personnel.”
Thursday’s game will be the final exhibition contest for the Tigers before they open the regular season a week from Friday vs. UAB.