Horace Spencer (left) and Cinmeon Bowers had plenty to smile about as the Tigers defeated Alabama.
Auburn, Ala.--“I played alright, I could have played better--for real.”
Those were the words of Auburn forward Cinmeon Bowers after Tuesday night’s 83-77 SEC basketball win over the Alabama Crimson Tide. Bowers' stat line at the end of the contest included 20 points and a monstrous 18 rebounds. He played 32 minutes and added two assists, one block, one steal and turned the ball over just one time.
“It just started on defense, defensive rebounding,” Bowers explained about where his improved play has originated from in recent games. “I don’t really focus on my points. That’s going to come regardless. I was just locked in on defense. Coach told me to go rebound the basketball.”
Bowers did just that. The second-year Tiger, who dropped 20 pounds this season to improve his quickness, imposed his will in the paint, grabbing the majority of what came off the backboard. His rebounding split was three offensive and 15 defensive rebounds, which ended up being five more than the 10 offensive rebounds Alabama was able to collect.
“I was just trying to be the first one up to the rim and get the basketball,” the six-foot-seven senior pointed out. “It’s really not a height thing. It’s just (having) the will, you know. Do you want the ball or not? I just go grab them.”
Bowers recently started playing only the power forward position for the Tigers with graduate transfer Tyler Harris and true freshman Horace Spencer sharing time at center. Bowers said this has been a beneficial change for himself and the team.
“Playing two positions is kind of hard,” he admitted, “but I could do it. Tyler Harris is more efficient down there in the post because he’s so tall. Me being at the four (power forward), it’s a good deal.”
Both head coaches, Auburn’s Bruce Pearl and Alabama’s Avery Johnson, were very complimentary of Bowers after the game. Both also noted how dangerous and effective Bowers can be at power forward.
“He’s been really locked in,” Pearl said. “He’s been really focused. We are playing Cim at power forward. He’s played at power forward the last three or four games.
“Having him out there at power forward, he’s got a good matchup out there. He can do things on the perimeter, he can guard on the perimeter and he’s very powerful inside. He’s in a good place right now.”
Johnson agreed. “He’s a tough cover because you’ve got to make a decision on whether you’re going to play your five (center) or your four (power forward) on him. We gave him a couple of different looks, but more than anything, if he’s making his three-point shot he’s really tough to cover. He plays with a lot of energy. He goes after those rebounds. A lot of times we played great defense and then he gets a rebound. It kind of deflates you a little bit.”
The Tigers had to rally from 10 points down in the first half to take the victory. Asked what sparked the comeback, Bowers said, “We just had to get more stops on the defensive end. We were down by like 10, 14 to 24, with four minutes to go. At the timeout we just came in and talked about locking down on defense. Chuck (associate head coach Chuck Person) came in the huddle because he’s our defensive coach and just pulled us together.”
Bowers and the Tigers (9-8, 3-3 SEC) will look to continue their two-game winning streak when they take on the Florida Gators (12-6, 4-2 SEC) on Saturday in Gainesville, Fla. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST with the game being televised by the SEC Network.