Freshman Horace Spencer Contributing For Coach Bruce Pearl's Auburn basketball Tigers

Horace Spencer saw an expanded role as the Tigers played the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Horace Spencer (above) is shown in action vs. Oklahoma State.

Auburn, Ala.--With Cinmeon Bowers suspended for Saturday night’s SEC-Big 12 Challenge vs. Oklahoma State, Horace Spencer got an opportunity for extended playing time.

The freshman responded with season-highs for rebounds (11), blocked shots (six) and minutes played (27) while scoring six points and contributing a steal, but that wasn’t enough to lead Coach Bruce Pearl’s Auburn basketball team to a victory.

A woeful shooting performance was the deciding factor for Auburn in its 74-63 loss to the Oklahoma State. The Tigers struggled from the field the entire game,  shooting 29 percent (18-62), including 20.7 percent (6-29) from three-point range.

Although there weren’t a lot of good things happening for Pearl’s team that lost its third consecutive game, the coach noted that he liked what he saw from Spencer.

“I’m just going day by day,” said Spencer after he was asked about mentally preparing for having an increased role against OSU. “I’m just ready to step up into that bigger role. You work hard, you work every day and you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow so you work hard today. You make your own future.”

Spencer’s future in the starting lineup is uncertain with the expected return of Bowers when the Tigers play host to LSU on Tuesday (6 p.m. CST, SEC Network). The freshman center/forward from Philadelphia, who turned 19 years old on Sunday, said that the Tigers will have to rely on each other to get wins for the rest of the season.

“Obviously, I’m not used to playing many minutes because of Cim,” said Spencer. “He’s got a big role. He brings a lot of energy that I can’t by myself. I’m a high energy player, but I’m his backup. With me starting it’s kind of a weight on my shoulders, and you’re missing a big piece of our team out there on the floor.”

Photo by Jason Caldwell

Horace Spencer played at Findlay Prep in Nevada as a high school senior.

According to Spencer the team’s morale is not in the pits following a three game losing streak nor is the team down about the suspension of Bowers.

“Everybody in the locker room is being positive,” noted Spencer. “We’re just waiting for (Bowers) to come back stronger for LSU and be ready. That’s all it really is.”

Commenting on the freshman’s outing vs. the Cowboys, Pearl said, “I thought Horace Spencer played really hard and really well. Eleven rebounds, six blocked shots, that’s pretty good. He definitely was a factor out there.

“It was great to see him out there flying around,” the coach added. “He was very active and played with great effort and energy.

“I don’t like to try to blow guys up too much. Horace can play better, but when he plays with that motor he plays like Dennis Rodman. He doesn’t play with that motor all the time so if we get him to do it more often then He will continue to improve and be a factor on the floor.”

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