AUBURN, Ala. — Bruce Pearl never intended to overlook Coastal Carolina.
Yet when Nik Popovic tipped in a the final basket for Boston College, defeating the Tigers on Monday night, responding tonight with a win over the Chanticleers became even more of a priority for Auburn.
Circumstances only grew more complicated, however, when Auburn returned to the Plains. On Wednesday Pearl announced Bryce Brown and Horace Spencer would miss practice and Thursday’s game due to an indefinite suspension following their arrests.
According to an Auburn Police Department incident report, the sophomores were arrested on South Donahue Drive at 2:53 a.m. on Wednesday near the Auburn Athletic Complex.
Pearl said the timetable for the players’ return has not been determined.
Now the Tigers’ focus shifts back to Coastal Carolina, who nearly defeated Auburn when the two teams last met (Auburn escaped the game in Conway, S.C., with an 81-78 win).
“Coastal Carolina is an awfully good team. They play a tough schedule, as Cliff (Ellis) always plays,” Pearl said. “And they have challenged us the last couple of years…He’s got some new pieces this year, but they led Alabama at halftime and it was a close game through the second half. One of their strengths is rebounding margin. They’re over plus-eight on the boards. They average 15 or 16 offensive rebounds per game, and we struggle to rebound the ball.”
Auburn has been outmatched in the paint and on the boards consistently to this point.
Spencer, the tallest player in Auburn’s starting five, was averaging 5.9 points and 4.8 rebounds through Auburn’s first eight games. Brown was dropping in 6.9 points per game (averaging 1.6 rebounds) but had found other ways to contribute, mostly on the defensive end of the floor.
“We’ll be without our best defender in Bryce Brown and we’ll be without our best rebounder in Horace Spencer,” Pearl said. “It will complicate things even further.”
Senior guard TJ Dunans is expected to see increased playing time after missing Monday’s game with an illness. Anfernee McLemore also could see more court time.
“He’s one of our hardest workers,” Pearl said of the freshman forward. “One of the most disciplined players. He actually can help us in some areas that we need some help in.”
Auburn will have to try to contain Coastal guards Elijah Wilson (15.7 ppg) and Jaylen Shaw (12.9 ppg). The Chanticleers play two 6-foot-8 forwards in Demario Beck (11.1 ppg) and Amidou Bamba (240 pounds).
“I think there is a lot to respond to this week,” Pearl said. “We’re just going to have to see how it goes.”
Auburn basketball on Monday night
Projected starting 5
* Blocks per game
** Steals per game
About the game
Coastal Carolina (5-6) vs. Auburn (6-2)
Game time: 9 p.m. ET
Where: Auburn Arena, Auburn, Alabama
TV: SEC Network (Richard Cross, Daymeon Fishback)
How to watch online: WatchESPN
Follow live stats: AuburnTigers.com