JARED HARPER (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl Notes That His Basketball Team Really Needs A Win Vs. Mississippi State

Comments from Bruce Pearl are featured as his Tigers prepare to play Mississippi State on Tuesday night at Auburn Arena.

Auburn point guard Jared Harper (above) won his second SEC Freshman of the Week award on Monday.

Auburn, Ala.--After losing on its homecourt last week to Tennessee, Auburn coach Bruce Pearl made it clear on Monday that his Tigers don’t need to repeat that circumstance on Tuesday night vs. Mississippi State.

“It is an important game for us because we have got our RPI (63) down into the low 60s,” Pearl pointed out. “Mississippi State (113) is one of the few teams in the SEC with an RPI over 100.

“From that standpoint it is really an essential game for us to be able to hold serve at home,” Pearl said. “It would be an RPI killer for us.”

Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. CST at Auburn Arena and the game will be televised on ESPNU. Auburn is 15-8 overall and 4-6 in the SEC. The Bulldogs are 14-8 overall and 5-5 in the SEC after rallying from a 19-point deficit on Saturday to defeat Tennessee 64-59.

Schnider Herard, a 6-10 freshman center, scored 12 points while adding 15 rebounds vs. the Vols. Mario Kegler, a 6-7 freshman guard, contributed 17 points and nine rebounds.

The leading scorer, 6-4 sophomore guard Quinndary Witherspoon, is averaging 17 points per game for the Bulldogs. 

“They had a great win Saturday,” Pearl said. “They have come from behind four times now trailing by 10 points or more, which tells you a little bit about their character and the weapons they have offensively.

“Witherspoon is a pro,” the Auburn coach added. “He can take over a game. I am really impressed with their point guard play.”

The Tigers, who will play at Ole Miss on Saturday, are coming off an 82-77 victory at Alabama, giving the Tigers the regular season sweep vs. their rival. The Tigers won the game without sophomore forward Horace Spencer, who is recovering from a shoulder injury suffered in the Tennessee game. Pearl said that Spencer is having more tests done on Monday to determine how he is progressing with the injury that was protected last week with a shoulder harness.

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