Danjel Purifoy (above) is off to a good start this season for the Tigers.
Auburn, Ala.--Back home after playing two games south of the border, Coach Bruce Pearl’s Auburn basketball team will try to start a new winning streak on Tuesday when they play host to the USC-Upstate Spartans.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CST at Auburn Arena with the 4-1 Tigers taking on the 3-3 visitors.
“I just want to encourage all of our fans to come out and watch our team,” says Pearl, whose Tigers are trying to bounce back from a 96-71 loss in the finals of the Cancun Challenge to 17th-ranked Purdue. In their other game in Mexico the Tigers defeated Texas Tech 67-65.
“We have made some progress,” says Pearl, whose team won’t play again at home until Dec. 15th. “We have got a lot of work to do yet still, but we are excited about being back from a couple of days of Thanksgiving break and getting back to the grind.”
USC-Upstate will also be trying to bounce back from a loss after falling 72-60 on the road to College of Charleston. Prior to that the Spartans won at UNC-Charlotte.
“Upstate scored 108 in an overtime victory over Charlotte, they won at Charleston Southern, they return four starters, they’ve got a seven-footer that comes off of the bench that’s had 20-plus the last couple games and is a load down on the inside,” Pearl says. “They can score. They are an exciting team.
“Coach (Eddie) Payne does an outstanding job with them and so what I would anticipate is that it’ll be up-tempo, an exciting game,”?Pearl says.
“The games that they have lost, they have been guarded and didn’t score like they had in their victories so defense is going to be important for us, transition defense is going to be important for us. It was one of the things that bothered us over in Cancun.”
Mustapha Heron (5) is off to a solid start as a freshman for the Tigers.
Mike Cunningham, a 6-1, 190 sophomore guard, leads the Spartans in scoring at 13.7 points per game. Michael Buchanan, a 7-0, 285 senior, is the top rebounder at 8.5 per game and is averaging 12.5 points.
Redshirt freshman foward Danjel Purifoy leads the Tigers in scoring and is second in rebounds at 5.0 per game. Freshman guard Mustapha Heron is AU’s top rebounder at 6.4 per game and is second in scoring at 14.8 points.