T.J. Dunans (above) has become a major contributor in his first season at Auburn.
Auburn, Ala.--Coach Bruce Pearl’s second Auburn basketball team is off to a strong start offensively as the Tigers take a break for fall semester final exams.
The Tigers are currently ranked No. 7 nationally in points per game at 90.2 per contest. The Citadel leads the nation with its average of 94.1 points per outing.
By the time the Tigers take the court again on Saturday in Nashville where they will face Middle Tennessee State, Pearl’s players will have gone a week and a half without playing a game since winning 81-79 at Coastal Carolina to improve their record to 4-1.
Middle Tennessee State, winners of the Great Alaska Shootout Tournament, will bring a 5-2 record into Saturday’s noon CST game at Bridgestone Arena, a facility Auburn will return to in March to participate in the SEC Tournament.
The Blue Raiders are averaging 67.7 points per contest while giving up 66.0 a game. Auburn is allowing 77.2 points per game and has built its strong start with the help of plenty of production from behind the three-point line. The Tigers are averaging 10.8 three-point baskets per contest, which leads the SEC and ranks eighth nationally.
Auburn has made 41.5 percent of its three-point attempts, which leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks 16th in the country.
In last year’s MTSU at Auburn game the Tigers took a 64-48 decision to improve their record to 3-0 all-time vs. Middle Tennessee State, which plays in Conference USA.
Led by coach Kermit Davis who is in his 14th season at MTSU, the Blue Raiders lost their 2015-16 opener 76-65 at Murray State and the other loss was a 62-56 setback vs. VCU. In their last outing MTSU defeated South Alabama 68-55. The Blue Raiders won the Great Alaska Shootout with victories over Alaska-Anchorage (75-72), UNC-Asheville (63-61) and Toledo (78-70). Their win was 69-66 at Tennessee State.
Giddy Potts, a 6-2, 220 sophomore guard from Athens, Ala., High, leads the Blue Raiders in scoring at 14.3 points per game. Darnell Harris, a 6-8, 231 senior, is averaging 12.1 points and 4.4 rebounds. Reggie Upshaw, a 6-7, 232 junior, is contributing 10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Perrin Buford, a 6-6, 220 senior guard from Decatur, Ala., is averaging 9.4 points and 4.6 rebounds. The other expected starter, 6-4, 200 senior guard Jaqawn Raymond, averages 4.0 points and 3.3 assists. He is a transfer from North Carolina State.
Five Auburn players are averaging double figures for scoring led by junior guard Kareem Canty at 17.2 points and senior forward Tyler Harris, who is scoring 17.0 points per outing while averaging a team-leading 8.0 rebounds.
Junior guard T.J. Dunans is the No. 3 scorer at 15.4 points. Senior forward Cinmeon Bowers is averaging 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds while freshman guard Bryce Brown is contributing 10 points per contest in a reserve role.
The Tigers are close to having six players scoring in double figures with guard T.J. Lang averaging 9.2. Pearl said he has been pleased with the sophomore on both ends of the court. "I thought T.J. Lang really stepped up (vs. Coastal Carolina,)" Pearl said of the sophomore's defense. "His making open shots was really a key for us."