T.J. Dunans (above) started his first Auburn game and performed well vs. UAB.
Auburn, Ala.--Coach Bruce Pearl’s Auburn basketball team will try to improve to 2-0 on the regular season and avenge last year’s loss to the Colorado Buffaloes when the Tigers take the court for an unusual start time on Tuesday.
Participating in ESPN’s 24 hours of basketball marathon, the Tigers will tip off at 2 p.m. CST at Auburn Arena. Last year the Tigers lost 90-59 at Colorado in a game they trailed by four points at halftime before fading in the second half.
“Even at some point in the second half we are hanging around, and then all of the wheels fell off and Colorado ran us out of the gym,” said Pearl, Auburn’s second-year head coach, whose team defeated UAB 75-74 on Friday night.
Colorado lost its season opener on Friday, falling 68-62 in a neutral site game to Iowa State, a team that is ranked No. 7 nationally.
Auburn could get a boost for game two from freshman guard Bryce Brown, who is expected to be one of the team’s top outside shooters. He was less than full speed in preseason with injuries and had to sit out of the opener due to a one-game suspension for playing in a summer league game.
Bryce Brown is a six-foot-three freshman guard from Georgia hoops power Tucker High.
“I would love to have had Bryce for both exhibitions, but I only had him for a half,” said Pearl, who added that facing the Buffaloes will be a challenging introduction to major college basketball for Brown.
Another freshman guard, New Williams, was out with a knee injury for the opener and is not expected to play vs. Colorado. With returning starting guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen recovering from a shoulder injury, the Tigers were very short on guards for the UAB game. Another guard, freshman Danjel Purifoy, has not been academically cleared to play for the Tigers.
The Buffaloes will be playing in the state of Alabama for the first time on Tuesday. They will do it with 6-10, 245-pound senior forward Josh Scott back to test the Tigers. Last year he scored 17 points, pulled in nine rebounds and blocked three shots vs. the Tigers. He posted a double-double vs. Iowa State with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Wesley Gordon, a 6-9, 220 junior, burned the Tigers last year with 16 points and 12 rebounds and is back for the Buffaloes. Their top scorer in game one was six-foot-six sophomore guard George KIng, who finished with 16 points vs. Iowa State.
Auburn’s top scorer last year vs. the Buffaloes, in a game that started at 12:05 a.m. CST as part of the hoops marathon, is gone. K.T. Harrell finished with 20 points vs. the Buffaloes while Cinmeon Bowers, who is a senior this season, scored 11 points with 13 rebounds.
Kareem Canty, who was redshirting last season, led Auburn in scoring vs. UAB with 20 points while newcomer T.J. Dunanas added 17 points, six rebounds and three steals. Newcomer Tyler Harris scored 14 and pulled in five rebounds while Bowers added 11 points and six rebounds.
Pearl said playing in the college basketball marathon is an “honor” for the Tigers and is hoping there will be a good crowd despite the odd start time. AU officials announced that fans can park in any legal space on campus and not be ticketed on Tuesday. In addition, there will be shuttles taking fans to Auburn Arena from the campus community gardens parking lot. The old track and field is also available for parking.