Honolulu, Hawaii-- Auburn picked up an important win to open the Diamond Head Classic on Tuesday and it earned Coach Bruce Pearl and the Tigers a spot in the semi-finals where they will face the Harvard Crimson (4-6) on Wednesday.
Defeating New Mexico 83-78 behind strong games from Kareem Canty and T.J. Dunans, Auburn will have its hands full against a Harvard team that features a big man who is quickly developing into a potential NBA talent.
A 6-9 athlete in the paint for Harvard, Zena Edosowman had a monster game in an 85-82 overtime win over BYU on Tuesday. Reaching career highs in points (23) and rebounds (17), Edosowman’s presence in the paint opened opportunties for Harvard's perimeter shooters and they came through by hitting 11-22 shots from three-point range.
For Auburn it was once again the Canty show in the win over the Lobos as he connected on 9-21 shots, including 5-14 from behind the arc, to score a team-high 27 points. Continuing his strong play Canty added seven assists with just two turnovers. Answering the bell by splitting time with Canty at point guard, Dunans added 20 points for the Tigers while Cinmeon Bowers came off the bench to score 12 points and pull down 12 rebounds.
Leading Auburn in scoring this season at 20.8 points per game while also adding 5.9 assists per contest, Canty will be called on to perform well once again with Harvard sending a wave of talented players out at the guard position. Playing five different players at guard that average at least 7.4 points per game, Harvard is a dangerous opponent because so many different guys are capable of making the tough shot.
The tip for Auburn-Harvard is scheduled for approximately 4 p.m. CST on Wednesday with the game shown nationally on ESPNU. Win or lose the Tigers will advance to Christmas Day on Friday, playing either in the third-place game at 5:30 p.m. CST or in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Both games will be shown on ESPN2.
Keys To Victory
Getting quality play from Canty is a given, but getting Tyler Harris untracked may be the biggest thing for the Tigers heading into Wednesday’s contest. Averaging 18.3 points and 12 rebounds per game in the three contests prior to Saturday’s loss at Xavier, Harris has scored just eight total points in the last two games and is a player the Tigers desperately need to get going if they hope to advance to the championship game on Christmas day.
Looking At Harvard
Playing just three home games so far this season, Harvard is riding a two-game winning streak with their last loss coming 75-69 at Kansas. Led by former Duke guard Tommy Amaker, Harvard has averaged over 23 wins per season the last six years with four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Last season the Crimson fell 67-65 to North Carolina to end the year.
With seven players averaging at least 6.3 points per game, Harvard's style is slowing the tempo and playing great defense. Averaging 67.1 points per game this season, the Crimson allow 65.4 points per contest.