Photo by Jason Caldwell

Bruce Pearl Wants To See Better Defensive Play From His Tigers Vs. Georgia Southern

Bruce Pearl's Tigers will take on Georgia Southern as they look for their second win of the basketball regular season.

Junior guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen (above),  Auburn's top defensive player, did not have problems physically in his comeback from a shoulder injury, Bruce Pearl said.

Auburn, Ala.--Bruce Pearl’s basketball team will look to improve defensively on Friday night as the Tigers play host to Georgia Southern at Auburn Arena.

Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. CST and both squads will bring a 1-1 record into the contest after dropping their previous contests. Auburn fell 91-84 at home to Colorado on Tuesday afternoon while the Eagles fell 82-72 at Ole Miss on Monday night.

“We have not demonstrated that we are a very good defensive team,” Pearl said. “If you look at the upsets in college basketball, even just the ones in the SEC, mid-major teams are putting up big numbers and big points on opponents. You control your destiny against a team that you are supposed to beat or are physically superior to by defending and rebounding. The most similar team that we have played to this team was Indianapolis. They scored 109 points.”

Auburn won that exhibition game vs. Indianapolis by five points in overtime.

“They spread it, they drive it and they shoot it,” Pearl said of Georgia Southern. “Half of their shots are from three, and half of their makes are from three--actually more than half of their makes are from three. They are better from three than from two. They will play four guards. They will be very difficult to stay in front of.”

Against Colorado the Buffaloes were able to overcome a 15-point first half deficit to defeat the Tigers. A big reason for that is the visitors got too many open shots, allowing them to hit 57.4 percent of their field goals.

Putting the Buffaloes on the foul line was a problem, too, as they hit 21-26 free throws.

“We have to get our culture of defense established for us to be able to control our destiny,” Pearl said.

Photo by Jason Caldwell

T.J. Dunans is averaging 15.5 points per game for the Tigers.

The Eagles are led in scoring by 6-4, 195 freshman guard Ike Smith, who is averaging 12.5 points and six rebounds per contest. Coye Simmons, a 6-8, 240 sophomore, is the top rebounder at 9.5 per game and is averaging 8.0 points.

Mike Hughes, a 6-3, 190 sophomore guard is averaging 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds for Coach Mark Byington, who has a 38-29 record at Georgia Southern.  A 6-5, 185 sophomore forward, Jake Allsmiller, is scoring 9.5 points per contest 6-2, 180 sophomore guard is adding 8.5 points.

“The last two times that Auburn has played Georgia Southern, maybe 2010 and 2011 were the last times, we won by an average of three or four points, and one of the games went into overtime,” said Pearl, who noted that it will be the job of the coaching staff to make sure the Tigers are ready to play at a high level vs. the Eagles.

Standing room only tickets ($16) are available for the game that can be viewed on-line at SECN+ with Rod Bramblett and Sonny Smith calling the action. 

“They are multiple defensively,” Pear; said about Georgia Southern, which he called a well-coached team.

“They will play a switching man-to-man. They will play 1-3-1, they will play 1-1-3, they will change things up a lot. Their spread ball screen stuff is hard to guard. Again, that is one of the things as you build on your season and you start to go against different players and different packages, you learn and you grow.”

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