Auburn, Ala.--It is safe to say that the Auburn basketball team has not had the best of luck this season in regards to having the full complement of players available game in and game out. Coach Bruce Pearl has been forced to rearrange lineups, reassign players and redistribute minutes throughout the season. Wednesday night was no different.
The Tigers were facing the visiting Georgia Bulldogs, and the new issue facing the team was the unavailability of graduate transfer and starter Tyler Harris, who suffered a concussion against Ole Miss on Saturday. Auburn would need someone to step up in his absence as the former Providence player averages a team-high 14 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. The stage was set, but who on Pearl’s team would take the opportunity and run with it?
Jordon Granger, that’s who. The senior from St. Louis, Mo., took the moment in stride, scoring 18 points and bringing down 11 rebounds, both career highs, for the Tigers in their 84-81 win over the Bulldogs.
“This is one of the best games I’ve played offensively and defensively,” said Granger after the win. He averaged just 4.4 points and two rebounds a game heading into the contest.
“I feel like it was a great team effort tonight,” the senior said. “The effort was there and the hunger to win was there with everybody top to bottom so it was good for us.”
Granger pointed out that he was specifically amped up for this game due to it being one of his last home games. “I was hyped all day,” he said. “I was hyped two days ago at practice for this game because I really wanted to get a win especially at home. Coach (Pearl) always preaches to protect your home turf,so it was good to come together and rally and get a big win like that.”
One of the reasons Granger was able to produce a career-best night was his position change due to Harris’s injury. Granger was shifted to power forward with senior Cinmeon Bowers playing center.
“I was used to playing the four (power forward) before Tyler Harris got here,” Granger remarked. “That’s Tyler’s spot so I moved to the three. I’m just used to playing two (shooting guard) through five (center) so wherever I’m needed that’s where I go and handle business. I play good defense. I can guard any guard on the court. It’s just the play calling. I get more shots at the four so I love it.”was
Pearl said he was impressed with Granger’s performance at power forward, even noting that he might “probably be better” there than at his normal position (small forward).
“He is pretty good at the four,” the coach said. “That is the position he trained for all summer.”
The Tigers will look to win take both meetings vs. rival Alabama on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.CST at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa. The game will be televised by the SEC Network.