Auburn Basketball: Tigers Can’t Play Above the Rim


He’s said it before, and he said it again (twice) on Tiger Talk Monday night. According to Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl, “I don’t have one guy that plays above the rim. I don’t have one guy that plays at the rim.”

Simply put, the Tigers aren’t very big.

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Cinmeon Bowers and Matthew Atewe are really the only two big men on the roster, and Atewe will be out for a while after re-injuring his surgically repaired leg in Friday’s scrimmage against West Alabama.

At 6-foot-8 and 210 pounds (20 pounds lighter than Atewe), forward Jordon Granger is the next biggest player on the roster. And with Granger and Bowers starting, that means depth will be a major issue this season.

“I do think in order to protect the rim we are going to have to extend this year,” Pearl said last month before the team’s first official fall practice. “Because we don’t have enough quality depth on the inside that would stand foul trouble or anything like that.”

Freshmen Jack Purchase and Antoine Lang are 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-7, respectively, but both weight less than 200 pounds. Neither  is strong enough to give Bowers a breather or step up in Atewe’s absence in the middle. And that’s a concern for Pearl.

“That’s tough because he was our biggest player on a team that doesn’t have very many big players,” Pearl said Monday.

Because of the lack of size and length on the roster, expect Pearl to rely on a backcourt that could be one of the best in the SEC.

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  • K.T. Harrell and Antoine Mason are a great scoring duo and combined for 43 points in the Tigers’ 94-58 exhibition win over West Alabama Friday. Mason even displayed an ability to go above the rim with two impressive dunks in the second half. But, at 6-foot-1, Mason isn’t going to win many leaping contests against bigger players from Kentucky, Florida, LSU or Georgia.

    Mason and Harrell also took a combined 11 of Auburn’s 32 total three-point attempts. Because the team lacks ideal size and strength, they’re likely to get pushed around inside. Therefore, hitting shots away from the basket is necessary for success.

    Hopefully, Trayvon Reed – the 7-foot-1, 230-pound center that has committed to play for the Tigers after he spends the fall at prep school – will be on campus and eligible in January. For the Tigers to compete in the SEC, and for a post-season berth, they’ll need his presence for depth and his ability to play above the rim.

    Because right now, no one else can.

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