Kareem Canty (above) made clutch players for the Tigers on Thursday night.
Auburn, Ala.--Auburn survived a barrage of long-range three-point bombs and excellent foul-shooting from Division II power University of Indianapolis before outlasting the Greyhounds 114-109 in a wild exhibition basketball game on Thursday night at Auburn Arena.
Junior guard Kareem Canty made key plays late in the contest and overtime to lead the Tigers with 24 points, including a perfect 13-13 at the foul line.
Starting at 8:46 left in the second half when he hit two free throws to cut Indy’s lead to one, Canty helped the Tigers pull ahead 88-82 with a three-pointer with 5:57 as he scored 13 points during that stretch. However, the Tigers couldn’t shake the Greyhounds, who consistently hit shots when they had to in order to keep the game close.
Canty’s clutch play helped make up for his teammates’ struggles at the foul line, especially Cinmeon Bowers, who was 3-13 on free throws, including misses on his first nine trips to the foul line.
“It was fun for me because I was sitting out last year,” said Canty, who had to redshirt as a transfer from Marshall University. “We kind of needed that challenge. I learned a lot from that game that I can work on and my teammates can work on, but most importantly we stuck together.”
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said the game was “fun to watch” and “exciting,” but added, “We obviously had a ton of breakdowns. It was what we needed to help us get ready because the four senior guards, plus a shooter like (Eric) Davidson, were pretty effective players."
Coach Bruce Pearl reacts to a play in his team's Thursday night victory.
Pearl added, “I am disappointed with our pressure defense, I ?am disappointed with our transition defense. That put a lot of pressure on our offense. When you score 114 points and miss 18 free throws that tells you what kind of offensive weapons we have.”
Indianapolis coach Stan Gouard, who played for Pearl when Pearl was head coach at Southern Indiana, said he thought his team played better than it did in its first exhibition game vs. Valpo earlier in the week. “I told our guys after the game I thought we were better tonight than we were on Tuesday night despite the score,” he said.
The Greyhounds, who are ranked No. 8 nationally in preseason, hit 33-38 free throws and 14-35 three-pointers. Overall, Indy made 31-66 field goals (47.0) while Auburn hit 36-62 shots for 58.1 percent. The Tigers were 8-20 on threes and 34-52 at the foul line.
Tyler Harris, who got into foul trouble early and fouled out in the second half with just 18 minutes of court time, scored 18 points for the Tigers and pulled in six rebounds. In his absence Horace Spencer had a big night. The freshman came off the bench to post a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds while blocking three shots.
Tyler Harris is a transfer from Providence College. He hit 7-9 field goals vs. Indianapolis.
Bowers added 17 points, eight rebounds, three steals and three assists without a turnover as he made 7-11 field goals.
T.J. Dunans added 14 points, four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals for the Tigers.
Indianapolis was led by senior guard Jordan Loyd, who made 7-13 field goals and 17-18 free throws on the way to scoring 33 points. Another guard, Eric Davidson, hit 8-13 three-pointers as he scored 31 points.
Auburn led the entire first half except for a brief moment late in the period, but held just a 48-47 advantage at the break. Dunans, who scored 11 off the bench, led the Tigers in first half points while Harris, who scored six of Auburn’s first eight points, had 10 points at the break.
Auburn’s biggest lead in the first half was at 26-17 on a fastbreak layup by Spencer.
Horace Spencer played 25 minutes off the bench.
The game was tight the entire second half with the visitors out-scoring Auburn 53-52 in the period.
Bowers had no explanation for his struggles at the free throw line. “I have been working on them all summer and I barely miss,” he said. “I don’t know what happened tonight. I don’t know man...I made them when they counted though.”
Pearl predicted that Bowers, who shot just under 50 percent at the foul line last season, will boost that number around 20 percent this season. "I challenged Cinmeon because if Horace can go 7-10 from the foul line so can Cinmeon," the coach said. "I am still confident Cim will boost his free throw percentage by 20 percent. He shot 49 percent last year. I really believe that will improve, and when he had to make them at the end he did."
Bowers was pleased that he played 35 minutes without a turnover, another focus for him in preseason. “When I push the ball I try to make better decisions with the basketball,”?he said.
“The one thing I?would like to talk about is how we stayed together through adversity when we were down two or three,” he said. “We stayed together and that was a good sign.”
Cinemon Bowers hit 7-11 field goals, but was 3-13 at the free throw line.
Auburn finished its exhibition game with a 2-0 record that included a 99-59 victory over Brevard College, which is also a Division II team.
“I told the team, before the game I thought Indianapolis was going to be a tough cover,” Pearl said. “I thought they were going to be a really good offensive team, and they had just lost in a close game to a guaranteed NCAA Tournament team in Valparaiso with a 7-foot-1 center, a 6-foot-10 pro named Alec Peters, who plays the four for Valparaiso, and he’ll be a second rounder. They gave them all they wanted. We got a chance to see Stan Gouard coach, very up temp, kids played really hard, you saw what Indiana shooters can do in Eric Davidson, that was fun to watch--it was exciting.”
The Tigers will open the regular season next Friday with a home game vs. UAB scheduled for an 8:30 p.m. tipoff. as the second part of a doubleheader with the Auburn women also facing UAB.
News and Notes: Auburn’s bench produced 42 points while Indy got 30 from its subs...The Tigers outscored the Greyhounds 54-28 for points in the paint...Auburn finished with 13 turnovers while Indy had 15...Indy out-rebounded Auburn 39-35...The regular season opener vs. UAB has been announced as a sellout...Spencer said he is used to playing in games his team scored 100 points while attending powerhouse Findlay Prep in Nevada, but said the Tigers need work. "Defensively, we shouldn't have given up 1-9 points. We need to lock down on defense and offense will come. Defense wins championships."