Kareem Canty Won't Play For the Tigers As They Play at Tennessee

Coach Bruce Pearl discusses his basketball team which will again play without its top scorer on Tuesday at Tennessee.

Kareem Canty is a junior, who redshirted last season as a transfer from Marshall.

Auburn, Ala.--It looks like the Auburn Tigers will travel to Tennessee without their leading scorer, Kareem Canty, who remains indefinitely suspended,Coach Bruce Pearl said on Monday.

Canty, who was suspended for Saturday’s 65-55 loss at Georgia, is averaging 18.3 points per game. He is also Auburn’s assists leader at 5.3 per contest.

Commenting on the situation with Canty, Pearl said, “If it had gotten to a point where you simply run a little bit, or the team runs or you do other internal disciplinary things, if you can handle it that way you handle it that way, and we do.

“It gets to a point where the inconsistency of the attitude affects the behavior to a point where the behavior is unacceptable to have you playing then that’s what you do,” Pearl said. “That’s how you get involved in a suspension.”

In Canty’s absence the Tigers played power forward Cinmeon Bowers at point guard along with walk-on sophomore Patrick Keim and true freshman New Williams in the Georgia game.

Bowers also missed playing time after getting in the coaching staff’s doghouse in January. “Cim sat out the second half of Ole Miss and sat out the Oklahoma State game for conduct that was detrimental to the team,” Pearl pointed out. “He was able to get back and be accountable for that. Kareem’s is more serious.”

Asked if he has offered any advice to Canty, Bowers said, “Just keep his head up. I went through the same thing. Just keep your head up, be positive, keep going to class and just do the right thing.”

Photo: Dale Zanine

Cinmeon Bowers played both point guard and power forward vs. Georgia as he scored 12 points while adding 13 rebounds.

Asked if he expects Canty will be back with the team, the senior said, “Yeah, he’ll be back. He should be back.”

The head coach wouldn’t say when or if Canty will rejoin the team. Going into Tuesday's game the Tigers have eight regular season games left. They are 9-13 overall and 3-7 in the SEC.

Tennessee, which is 11-12 overall, is 4-6 in league play with one of its losses an 83-77 setback at Auburn in the SEC opener on Jan. 2.

Canty has scored in double figures 18 times this season with 12 games in which he has scored 20 or more points.

“Nobody said it was anything off the court,” Pearl said when discussing Canty’s suspension. “If you read my comments his attitude and sometimes affecting his effort was inconsistent which then led to behavior that was detrimental to the team.”

Pearl said that trio of Tigers who played point guard vs. Georgia will be the ones he expects to see action in Knoxville on Tuesday night. “We played Cim, Pat Keim and New Williams,” he said. “I would anticipate that won’t change. We thought about Bryce Brown, but Bryce Brown and T.J. Lang are my only two other guards and they both play the two and the three. They are both playing 30-32 minutes at those two positions.

“If I take Bryce Brown off that position, who do I put at the two? Just simply by virtue of numbers I can’t see it changing.”

Walk-on guard Zach Allison, who played extensively in the exhibition games, is not in the mix for playing time at point guard, Pearl said. Allison, a freshman, is behind Keim as a defender, according to the coach.

With the Tigers short on guards because of injuries to Tahj Shamsid-Deen and T.J. Dunans and the ineligibility of Danjel Purifoy, having to suspend a player makes a bad situation worse.

“It’s really tough because you want to do what is best for the student athletes themselves, both Kareem or Cim or any of the student-athletes, because you care about them,”?Pearl said. “The good does outweigh the bad, but then when you have those situations and you’re not winning it makes it really difficult.

“What you do is take the guys you have and do the very best you can to figure out a way to compete and represent. I thought our guys competed (at Georgia). I thought they were better defensively than they were offensively. Having playmakers and breakdown guys are important in the game of basketball, guys that can make plays. We don’t have a lot of those out there right now for a variety of reasons.”

Tipoff for Tuesday's game at Tennessee is set for shortly after 6 p.m. CST and it will be televised on the SEC Network.

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