Cinmeon Bowers (above) has produced 13 double-doubles this season.
Auburn, Ala.--Texas A&M will try to keep at least a share of the lead in the SEC basketball race while the Auburn Tigers will try to send their seniors out as winners in their final home game on Tuesday night.
Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. CST at Auburn Arena for a game that will be televised on ESPNU. The Aggies will bring a 22-7 overall record into the contest and are 11-5 in the SEC, which ties them for first place with Kentucky, one game ahead of LSU, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
Coach Bruce Pearl said the Aggies have been successful with a lineup that includes nine guys who have made major contributions to their success and have enabled Coach Billy Kennedy’s team to play an up-tempo style.
Pearl went with a seven-player rotation in Saturday’s loss at Alabama, but that could change on Tuesday night. “I would definitely look to say that we’ll probably play more like eight or nine,” Pearl said, noting that T.J. Dunans played “too much” vs. Alabama with 38 minutes of court time as the point guard.
The Aggies feature three players who are scoring in double figures led by Jalen Jones, a 6-7, 220 senior forward, who is averaging 15.7 points and 7.0 rebounds.
Danuel House, a 6-7, 212 senior guard, is scoring 15.7 points per game while 6-10, 265 freshman center Tyler Davis is averaging 11.0 points and 6.0 rebounds.
“They don’t drop off much when they go to their bench,” Pearl said “They have got some star power in Jones and House, and they have got one of the best freshmen in the country, certainly in the league, in Davis, who is a monster on the inside. It’s a good team, a real good team.”
Tyler Harris transferred to Auburn from Providence this season as a graduate student.
Harris leads the Tigers in scoring at 13.7 points per game and is second in rebounding at 7.7 per contest, trailing Bowers who averages 10.0 rebounds and 11 points. Dunans is averaging 11.7 points and Bryce Brown is next at 10.6 points per game.
Commenting on his scholarship seniors, starting with Bowers, Pearl said, “I don’t know where he ranks double-double-wise in his career. Pretty high. Cim was the No. 1 junior college player in the country, arguably, certainly one of the better inside players, and for him to pick Auburn at a time when we really needed him is something that I hope our Auburn fans and family will always remember.
“He took advantage of the opportunity by developing his game inside and out and certainly he had some terrific moments so I think that people will remember Cim fondly and appreciate his contribution, his effort, his energy. He’s a big, strong boy that changed his body for his senior year to try to be faster and quicker so I’m grateful.
“As I mentioned to you, he’s got a very difficult schedule. He has got 15 hours this semester and all tough classes, but he’s on time and he’s on target. He should leave here with his degree and be able to go on and play professional basketball. He will play for sure somewhere. I just look forward to having Cim in my life for a long, long time.”
Commenting on Harris, a graduate transfer who joined the team this season, Pearl said, “Tyler, again, you can say the same thing for all of them as far as we haven’t won as much as we would have liked to for this being their last year. But Tyler, who had never had a double-double in his career, came here and he’s had eight. Basically, he’s a small forward having to play center and doing good things inside and out.
“He got bit by the injury bug a little bit more than what people realize,” Pearl noted. “His back was jacked up for a while. He’s struggled from the perimeter more than I thought he would, and still hope that as we come down the stretch we see him shoot the ball better from the perimeter and the foul line. But in so many other ways, he brought great leadership and toughness, and again, put us in position to do a few things. We don’t win at Bud Walton Arena without him, we don’t beat Kentucky without him, we don’t beat Alabama without him...we don’t beat Tennessee without him so there are some things he did that, obviously, made an enormous difference.
Jordon Granger has played guard, small forward and power forward this season.
“And then Jordon Granger is probably as good an example, although Cim is a pretty good example as well, of what Auburn can do, what the university is capable of doing. Jordon will be the first to tell you he came out as rough as anybody, rough around the edges academically, socially, just his environment and the culture. And Auburn changed him. He became a better Christian man by being here and acting accordingly, not perfect, but really has got a good foundation now with his degree, and I think he’s going to have really good impact on his world and on our world. And he’s improved on the basketball court.
“Again, you can point to the Arkansas game,” Pearl said. “You can point to the Georgia game. And this is a guy that didn’t play at all, hardly at all his freshman and sophomore years and has played a lot his last couple of years, and he’s just improved, he’s grown, he’s made progress and that’s what you want students and student-athletes to do during their time here at Auburn.”
After playing the Aggies the Tigers will close the regular season on Saturday at Mississippi State.