Auburn, Ala.--After seeing his team open the season with a comfortable win, Coach Bruce Pearl is looking for more success and continued development in the process as Auburn plays host to Georgia State on Monday night.
Tipoff for the basketball game, which is part of the Cancun Challenge, is set for 8 p.m. CST. The game from Auburn Arena will be televised on the SEC Network.
“There are going to be about two months of teaching moments with this team because it’s so young,” Pearl said about his Tigers, who started three freshmen in an 83-66 victory over North Florida on Friday night.
Freshman forward Danjel Purifoy scored 14 points and pulled in four rebounds while adding three assists in game one. Freshman guard Mustapha Heron contributed 10 points and three rebounds. Freshman point guard Jared Harper added 10 points and four assists.
Bryce Brown hit five three-pointers on opening night vs. North Florida.
Auburn's top scorer on opening night, sophomore guard Bryce Brown, finished with 19 points.
Pearl says, “Every practice is a teaching moment and every game is a teaching moment, but the thing about the teaching is how much are we going to learn? How much are we going to grow from that experience?
“I think the other thing, too, about playing for me, if I was simply a drop-back zone coach, there’s only so many things you can do against zone. Then you focus on doing everything else. We’re multiple offensively. We’re multiple defensively. We full court press. We press on the underneath out of bounds plays.
“In other words, while we play fast and we give the guys freedom, we also do a lot of things, and so it takes a lot of time and a lot of teaching,” the coach says. “That’s part of the reason about being new why there are some challenges. If we just sat back in a 2-3 zone, well, there wouldn’t be as much teaching, but because we do change defenses, there is.”
Georgia State won its opener 111-69 vs. Thomas University, a NAIA team from Thomasville, Ga. The Panthers, who were 16-14 last year, feature a new-look this season, including four transfers in the starting lineup.
Jeremy Hollowell, a 6-8, 230 senior forward formerly of Indiana, scored 23 points in the opener with five rebounds. Will Clayton,a 6-8, 245 senor forward transfer from UNC-Charlotte, led the Panthers in game one rebounding with 13 to go with 11 points.
D’Marcus Simonds, a 6-3 freshman guard, scored 11 in game one. Jeff Thomas is expected to provide an offensive spark off the bench. The 6-5, 190 sophomore scored 17 points vs. Thomas University.
“Georgia State is another team like North Florida that’s been places that we haven’t been in the last couple of years,” Pearl says of a team from the Sun Belt Conference. “They were in the NCAA Tournament two years ago. They beat Baylor in the NCAA Tournament and there are guys on this team that did that.
“They had a good year last year, not a great year, but it was good, a winning record,” Pearl says. “They have about seven Division I transfers. Some of them are really high transfers like their best player Hollowell. That tells you how old I am. When he was in high school in Indiana, I actually was recruiting him at Tennessee and he went to Indiana. He is a terrific pick-and-pop four man. He is going to be a real challenging match-up for our freshmen fours, Danjel (Purifoy) and Anfernee (McLemore).”
Auburn leads the series vs. Georgia State 5-1 with the Panthers winning the last matchup with a 77-72 decision in December of 2003.