T.J. Dunans is averaging 12.4 points per game for the Tigers, but his status for the remainder of the season is in question.
Another Auburn junior guard, T.J. Dunans, is now listed as questionable for returning this season due to a left knee injury that he suffered on Dec. 23rd vs. Harvard.
Originally, Dunans was expected back in January or February with no surgery required, but Coach Bruce Pearl said on Friday that the knee had to be scoped. If the junior comes back this season it will be very late in the season and there is a possibility he won’t be back until the 2016-17 season.
Pearl noted that he isn’t sure what the long-range forecast is for whether or not the former starter Shamsid-Deen will be able to play again for the Tigers. His sophomore season was cut short, too, by injuries to each shoulder which required separate surgeries.
This season Shamsid-Deen was injured on Dec. 19th vs. Xavier. Dr. James Andrews is expected to do the surgery, which Pearl said will be an attempt to “tighten” the guard’s shoulders to prevent them from coming out of joint, an issue that Shamsid-Deen was born with, the coach noted.
Tahj Shamsid-Deen is a player Pearl has said is Auburn's top defender.
“The good is that Trayvon Reed is back in school and we're happy to have him back,” Pearl said on Friday of the seven-foot-two center who was not in school during fall semester for what Pearl said were personal reasons. “He started classes and he will start individual workouts and weight training, but his focus will be on getting caught back up academically and physically. He will not play this year and not be available for us this year. It's good to have him back.
“The bad would probably be Tahj Shamsid-Deen is out for the year,” Pearl said. “It's not a surprise to any of you that are close to the program. As difficult as last year was, this has to be even more difficult for him. Having gone through both shoulder surgeries and react so hard and so well and then to have played so well in the fall after being out all summer rehabbing, the combination of he and Kareem playing together was really exciting, and he never made it to the exhibition season.
“He got hurt right before our first exhibition game,” Pearl pointed. “It was a contact blow to his right shoulder that did some different kind of damage. He is genetically predisposed to having, for lack of a better explanation, some loose shoulders. How much Dr. Andrews is going to be able to tighten it up will determine whether or not he plays again because we have to make sure that he's not only healthy to return to play but also healthy to continue for the rest of his life. It's really difficult.
“I guess the ugly thing is while T.J. Dunans is doing well in his rehab, he did require a scope to do some cleaning up. He had a lot of bleeding because he had quite a traumatic patella dislocation.
“While the MCL and ACL and all the nuts and bolts are solid, it did a lot of damage to the tissue and arteries and things like that,” Pearl said. “They had to go in and fix some leaks and now he is able to progress with his rehab, but it pushes his return date out to very late in the season with the possibility of not being able to return.”
The Tigers, who are 7-8 overall and 1-3 in SEC play, will take on Kentucky at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Auburn Arena. The Wildcats, who are ranked 13th/14th nationally, are 13-3 overall and 3-1 in the SEC.
Asked what stands out about the Wildcats, Pearl said, “I think two things. I think, not only has Kentucky had to reinvent their roster because of all of the great players that went to the NBA last year, but it’s a different roster, and to Coach (John) Calipari’s credit they’re doing different things offensively and a little bit defensively to suit the talent.
"They have got a dynamic backcourt, and they do a lot of really good things in ball screen that they didn’t do as much of last year because they had Karl-Anthony Towns, they the best player in college basketball last year inside, and they had a bunch of other different kinds of personnel so they’ve changed a lot and adapted to their personnel really well. Because they are such a young team, it’s a team that will keep getting betterso later in the year they are just going to continue to improve and be tougher to beat. And they still have great length and athleticism and size.
"Alex Poythress is a real key for them," Pearl said. "I recruited Alex back when I was at Tennessee and got fired at Tennessee before he had to make his decision, but I felt like Tennessee and Kentucky and Vanderbilt were three of his top choices. My guess is he still probably would have gone to Kentucky if I was still at Tennessee, but I know Alex and his mom, and I’m really happy for him that he’s healthy and playing well. And obviously, I think from a standpoint of our fans getting a chance to see Tyler Ulis play, and I do hope our fans decide to come to the game and see Tyler Ulis play and not give their tickets to their Kentucky friends. But it’s one of those games, and I don’t think we should mind this, I think we should look forward to seeing the talent, the size, the depth of some of our opponents and love basketball and enjoy the opportunity that we have to challenge them and play them here at home, but also to appreciate their abilities. (Jamal) Murray is really good, too, in case you were wondering. Murray is really, really good, so that will be a good matchup for guys like TJ Lang, Bryce Brown to go up against a terrific, a very, very dynamic, explosive guard.”