T.J. Dunans (above) is averaging 11.5 points per game for the Tigers.
Auburn, Ala.--The Georgia Bulldogs will visit the Auburn Tigers on Wednesday for the next to last home basketball game of Bruce Pearl’s second year on the Plains, a season that has not gone as planned for the coach.
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CST and the Auburn injured list includes Tyler Harris, who took a blow to the head in Saturday’s 69-55 loss to Ole Miss. Harris is going through a concussion protocol this week and it has not been determined when he will be cleared to play.
Harris watched practice from the sidelines on Monday and Pearl said the 6-10 senior is “doubtful” for the rematch vs. Georgia, a team that defeated Auburn 65-55 on Feb. 6th.
“Georgia is a good team,”?Pearl said of the Bulldogs, who are 14-11 overall and 7-7 in the SEC. “They have got three guys right now in (Yante) Maten, (J.J.) Frazier and (Kenny) Gaines and probably (Charles) Mann, four really good players that when those four guys are on the floor at the same time they can all win their position against a lot of people in our league. And, then they’ve got good balance, they’ve got good depth.”
Maten, a 6-8, 240 sophomore forward, leads the Bulldogs in scoring at 16 points per game and rebounding with 8.0 per contest. He scored a dozen points vs. the Tigers in the previous matchup.
J.J. Frazier, a 5-10 junior point guard, is averaging 15.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Frazier led UGA in scoring with 16 points vs. Auburn in the game played at Athens.
Yante Maten is seventh in the SEC in rebounding.
Kenny Gaines, a 6-3 senior guard, is averaging 12.7 points and 6-5 senior guard Charles Mann is averaging 10.6 points per contest.
Against the Bulldogs in Athens, the Tigers were led in scoring by Bowers and Harris, who finished with 12 points apiece. That was the first game the Tigers played after Kareem Canty was suspended from the team. Canty, a junior point guard who was Auburn’s leading scorer, quit the team after being suspended for a second game.
“We have got to game plan without Tyler,” Pearl said of Harris, who is Auburn’s leading scoring at 14 points per game. “You could imagine all the moving parts because Cim (Cinmeon Bowers) is still playing some point guard. He may or may not play as much point guard.”
In the first matchup vs. the Bulldogs, Bowers played power forward and led the Tigers in rebounds with 13.
T.J. Dunans, who saw game action on Saturday for the first time since suffering a knee injury on Dec. 23rd, is available again to play the off-guard spot, small forward or point guard, where he saw much of his action vs. Ole Miss. Pearl said, “Dunans may play some off the ball, he may play on the ball, and just being back how much can he retain in a very short period of time? So it’s just a lot of moving parts late in the year to try and play better.”
Pearl noted that it is a “really good sign” that Dunans has not had swelling on his knee since playing on Saturday. “I would say that over the next couple of weeks I think he should be back to full strength. I think he should be back to playing as well as he played before he left, I would think. It depends on how much he plays on and off the ball.
“He’s clearly better off the ball, but as you guys remember, I did play him behind Kareem when we lost Tahj (Shamsid-Deen) so he can play the position because he can make other guys better, but he’s probably better doing it with another point guard.”
Auburn is 10-16 overall and 4-10 in the league with four games left in the regular season before heading to Nashville for the SEC Tournament, which is scheduled for March 9-13 in Nashville.
For Wednesday’s game, which will be televised on the SEC Network, Pearl noted that it is important that freshman Horace Spencer stay out of foul trouble with Harris unlikely to play.
“Without Tyler it will mean Horace has got to try to be on the floor longer,” the coach said. “I think Horace Spencer is playing better. We’re excited about how he is practicing and just his presence on the floor, a stronger offensive presence, a much stronger presence blocking shots and rebounding and utilizing his athleticism.
“I think he’s been pretty good the last three or four games, maybe not every one of them, but his confidence is picking up as a freshman would having played throughout the season, Pearl added.”
Spencer is averaging 4.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and a team-leading 2.16 blocks per contest.