Danjel Purifoy (above) is a six-foot-seven forward for the Tigers.
Auburn's first road trip of the 2016-17 men’s basketball season should test Bruce Pearl’s Tigers when they play games on Tuesday and Wednesday in Cancun, Mexico.
First on the schedule is a 5 p.m. CST tipoff on Tuesday vs. a Texas Tech team that shares Auburn’s 3-0 record. The contest between the Tigers and the Red Raiders will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.
“We’re excited about going down and playing in the Cancun Challenge,” says Pearl, whose Tigers are coming off of an 85-64 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Thursday night. Pearl and his team flew to Cancun on Sunday for the games that will be played at the Hard Rock Hotel Riveria Maya.
“I’m grateful for Auburn to have the resources to be able to send us to Mexico,” Pearl says. “Our guys had to get passports and have the opportunity to travel to another country. It’s exciting for the players.
“I would imagine maybe someday they will go back and visit with their families or their wives and remember this experience,” the coach says. “Obviously, for many of them, they had to get their passports for the first time.”
Texas Tech, which plays in the Big 12 Conference, opened its season with a 93-67 victory over Houston Baptist before defeating North Texas 70-43 and Eastern Kentucky 90-71.
“Texas Tech is a good team, a very good team, and I think they’re going to be an outstanding team,” Pearl said. What I mean by that is two things
“ One, they have some new pieces. They’ve got a new coaching staff. They’ve got some new pieces from a team that was in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, but this is maybe the oldest team in the country. They have juniors and seniors and the juniors are 22 and 23 and the seniors are 22 and 23 and 24 and they’re older and they’ve been around awhile.”
Keenan Evans, a 6-3, 185 junior guard, leads Texas Tech in coring at 14 points per game. Shadell Millinghaus, a 6-2, 195 junior guard, is averaging 12.7 points.
Also averaging in double figures for scoring are 6-8, 220 junior forward Anthony Livingston (12.7 points, 6.0 rebounds) and 6-8, 220 junior Zach Smith (8.3 points, 6.7 rebounds).
“They’ve got some real cagey vets, and they’ve got like six or seven of them, and I think that they’re going to become a great team by the time the season is over,” Pearl said. “I just feel looking at them that they’re just now, again like us, a lot of new pieces and they’re good, really good, but they’ve got a chance to be much better.”
The Tigers will play again on Wednesday in their final game of the Cancun Challenge against either Purdue or Utah State before arriving back in Auburn for Thanksgiving Day on Thursday.
Redshirt freshman Danjel Purifoy leads the Tigers in scoring with 16.3 points per game to go with 5.7 rebounds. True freshman guard Mustapha Heron is averaging 14.7 points and a team-high 7.0 rebounds.