Auburn Basketball: Bruce Pearl Era Begins With a Win Over Milwaukee


The Bruce Pearl era of Auburn basketball is underway, and though it didn’t come easy, Pearl earned his first victory for the Tigers with a 83-73 comeback effort over Milwaukee.

“I told them to be a champion, you cant focus on the end result. you have to focus on the process,” Pearl said after the game.

Nov 14, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers forward Cinmeon Bowers (5) grabs a rebound during the first half against the Milwaukee Panthers at Auburn Arena. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Also in his debut, Cinmeon Bowers was the star of the game for Auburn. The junior college transfer scored 18 points and grabbed 17 rebounds and played with great passion that helped ignite the Auburn Arena crowd for an impressive second half comeback. Auburn trailed 55-43, but outscored the Panthers 40-18 down the stretch to seal the first win of the season.

K.T. Harrell was also a big part of the second half surge. The pre-season All-SEC 2nd Teamer scored 18 of his 20 points in the second twenty minutes. Harrell hit 5-of-11 field goals, including two of three from beyond the three-point line, and was a very important 8-for-9 from the free throw line. As a team, the Tigers got to the charity stripe 39 times, but were just 71.8% from the line.

“We’ve got a new mindset,” Harrell said afterwards. “We want to win. Not to say we didn’t want to win last year, but it’s a whole new year.”

Senior transfer Antoine Mason announced his presence immediately and knocked down a three-pointer to start the game. Mason, the nation’s leading returning scorer, was just 5-of-14 from the field but had 19 points and fought through an ankle injury in the second half.

The Tigers jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, and also led 19-12, but went stone cold in the second ten minutes of the game. K.C. Ross-Miller had nine of the Tigers’ first 19 points, and finished with 13.

An 8-0 run gave Milwaukee their first lead of the game 20-19, and the Panthers led at the half, 32-29. At the break, the Tigers had made just 11 of 28 first half shots (39.3%).

Things got worse before they got better. But they did get better. Auburn finished the game 24-for-52 from the field (46.2%).

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Jordon Granger had a career-high eight points and hit his first two career three-pointers, including a big one to give Auburn a 75-71 lead late in the second half.

Freshman Jack Purchase endeared himself to the Auburn family with his tenacity during the game, twice getting tangled up with Milwaukee’s Matt Tiby. The second time Purchase and Tiby tussled, the Panther was called for a technical foul. The Aussie did not score, but he had a rebound and received a nice ovation from the crowd when he left the floor.

Unfortunately, the Tigers had to make their comeback without one of the team’s best players. Early in the second half, Tahj Shamsid-Deen left the floor clutching his shoulder following a loose ball scramble. The sophomore went to the locker room, and returned to the bench, but not to the game.

“It went out and came back,” Pearl said afterwards. “He’s never done it before. How tight is it? How much damage did he do to the nerve? When you do that sometimes you can lose feeling and strength and he’s experiencing some of those things right now. We’re just going to have to see.”

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