Sophomore guard New Williams (above) hugs point guard Jared Harper after the freshman hit a game-winning three-pointer to close one of Wednesday night's intrasquad games.
Auburn, Ala.--Coach Bruce Pearl put his Auburn basketball team through a major scrimmage on Wednesday night, slightly less than a month away from its Nov. 11th regular season opener scheduled against North Florida.
A newcomer who stood out at the session, six-foot-seven forward Anfernee McLemore, looks like he will be a contributor with his potential to score inside near the basket, rebound and block shots while keeping up with his new team’s fast-paced style of play.
McLemore hit 5-9 field goals and 4-5 free throws on the way to scoring 14 points. He led all rebounders with 11 and added a steal and an assist with just one turnover.
“The high tempo style of offense is a lot of fun for us,” McLemore said. “We want to get up and down the court and we want to make our opponents tired. When they get tired we can take advantage of them. We are trying to play 94 feet.”
Anfernee McLemore is a freshman forward.
Pearl said he likes what he has seen from McLemore, one of three true freshmen expected to be a major contributors this season along with point guard Jared Harper and shooting guard/small forward Mustapha Heron. Harper scored 18 points in the scrimmage and Heron added a dozen points.
“Anfernee is 6-7, 220 pounds, 225 maybe,” Pearl said. “He came here about 195 so he's put on about 30. It's all muscle. He is just strong. He's a strong kid.
“Now, he looks like a man out here because we don't have very many big-bodied guys so a 6-7, 230-pound freshman shouldn't be that imposing, and wouldn't be on most SEC rosters," Pearl said. "It's just that on my front line, Horace (Spencer) is a sophomore, Danjel (Purifoy) is a redshirt freshman, Anfernee is a freshman and the only upperclassman on my front line is LaRon Smith and he was at Bethune-Cookman last year. Our front line is light. A guy like Anfernee will definitely stand out and he's going to be a really good player.”
McLemore came to Auburn from Worth County High in Georgia where he was outstanding defender, who was also very good as a rebounder and shot-blocker.
“I am quicker than most big guys who try to guard me and at the same time if a smaller guy is trying to guard me I can take him in the paint,” McLemore said. “I feel like I am in a position where I can be successful.”
Redshirt freshman Danjel Purifoy was the top scorer in the scrimmage with 22 points. He hit 8-14 field goals and was 4-5 at the foul line while adding six rebounds.
Purifoy is a physical presence for the Tigers at the rim and also on the perimeter
Sophomore Bryce Brown scored 16 while senior point guard Ronnie Johnson added 14 points and a scrimmage-high seven assists.
Senior center/forward LaRon Smith scored 11 points and sophomore center Horace Spencer added 10 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore guard New Williams also scored 10 points. T.J. Lang finished with nine points and nailed a long three-pointer to win one of the games. Harper also hit a buzzer beater three to win another of the four scrimmage games on Wednesday night at Auburn Arena's practice facility.
While Pearl noted that he has concerns about his team’s lack of size, he pointed out that he likes the depth.
“Best on best, both games came down to a last-second shot, which tells me there's not a tremendous separation because I kind of evened the teams out a little in both scrimmages and they ended up even,”?the coach said.
“It was good from that standpoint. We're not very big and you could see that, but we're fast, we're athletic, we shoot it pretty well, we're deep and I'm hoping that our style of play will bother opponents, but we've got to gang tackle, we've got to gang rebound. If we can shore some of that up, I think we're off to a pretty good start.”