Danjel Purifoy (above) launches a three vs. Bama.
Tuscaloosa, Ala.--Danjel Purifoy wasn’t full speed on Saturday night, but he was certainly fully effective in Auburn's 82-77 SEC basketball victory over rival Alabama. A big smile on his face after the rivalry game made it obvious what the win meant to the redshirt freshman.
“We knew Danjel was going to play great tonight,” Pearl said of the forward from nearby Centreville, Ala. The six-foot-seven Purifoy took seven shots, all three-pointers, and made four on the way to scoring 14 points while adding four rebounds. He was 2-2 at the foul line.
“I felt like he was going to break out because this is close to home for Danjel and he had a lot of people in the building,” Pearl said. “That ankle wasn’t 100 percent and a lot of kids would have taken four or five weeks (off), but he took two.
“He came back,” Pearl said. “He was in no risk of further injury because it was tight, but he wouldn’t push off--he wouldn’t trust it. As a result he was not as effective, but his teammates kept encouraging him and his teammates continued to believe in him. Obviously, what a different he makes.”
Purifoy scored just five points in the first game vs. Alabama, an 84-64 victory at Auburn Arena. That contest came right after he was cleared to play again following the injury.
“I felt like I played very well tonight,” Purifoy said. “Coming into this game I felt like it was a big game. The coaches and staff were telling us it is a big game and we needed to get this ‘W.’ They got me the ball, I shot the ball tonight and did fairly well with it.”
Danjel Purifoy is now 2-0 in games vs. Alabama.
With the victory the Tigers swept the Tide home-and-home series for the first time since the 2008-09 season. The Tigers improved their record to 15-8, their most wins since that 2008-09 season.
Pearl said the Tigers helped themselves with their defensive effort on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. “That is something we can build on,” he said, noting he believes the players are learning that if they don’t play well defensively they will have trouble winning vs. strong competition.