Auburn Basketball: Tigers Win Exhibition Opener


Bruce Pearl and the Auburn Tigers beat West Alabama 94-58 in front of an announced attendance of 8,523 Friday night at Auburn Arena. The outcome won’t count in the official standings, but it marks the beginning of a new era for the Auburn basketball program.

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“The first thing that jumps off the stat sheet for me is the attendance. I don’t know what y’all were expecting, but it’s unbelievable,” Pearl said following the game.

The excitement surrounding the Auburn basketball program is unlike any we’ve seen in recent seasons. The university officially announced this week that all basketball season tickets have been sold out for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, and the exhibition game was sold out. You read that right – exhibition game. Sold out.

As for the game itself, we got a glimpse of the new-look Tigers roster, which was very productive in the win. Senior transfer Antoine Mason led Auburn with 22 points on 8-for-15 shooting, including a couple of impressive dunks in the second half. Mason also contributed four steals in 29 minutes.

Junior college transfer Cinmeon Bowers had 15 points and ten rebounds in 24 minutes. K.C. Ross-Miller, a transfer from New Mexico State, had five points, four assists and two steals in 15 minutes.

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  • Among the returners, K.T. Harrell shot 6-for-11 from the floor, including 4-for-7 from behind the 3-point arc, and finished with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists in 28 minutes. Tahj Shamsid-Deen added 11 points, including three three-pointers, four steals, and three assists. Malcolm Canada scored eight points and added three rebounds in 15 minutes and Jordan Granger had six boards, four assists and two points in 25 minutes.

    “I liked my starters, but our depth is an issue,” Pearl said. “I like the fact we turned them over and created tempo, which was good. I thought we gobbled up most of the 50-50 balls.”

    The depth took a hit when center Matthrew Atewe suffered a leg injury in the same leg he broke last year. The full extent of the injury is not yet known, and Atewe will have an X-ray and MRI today.

    “I thought the guys played better together,” Pearl said. “This was one of the better days. I’ve not been pleased how we’ve practiced. I’m not pleased with the progress where we are right now. I thought we got pushed around inside. I thought we got big-boyed.”

    Looking ahead to the regular season, getting “big-boyed” is a major concern. The Tigers have a lot of talent in the backcourt, but Bowers and Atewe are the only two bigs on the roster. If Atewe is out for any extended period, that increases the pressure on Bowers to be a physical presence inside, and to play big minutes.

    The Tigers host Milwaukee at 9PM Central next Friday in the season opener.

    Next: Auburn vs Texas A&M Game Day Prediction

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