AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn basketball fell to 0-3 in SEC play on Saturday night, but the Tigers suffered a loss that might linger longer than the 88-85 defeat to Ole Miss.
Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said redshirt freshman forward Danjel Purifoy is out for an unknown length of time after spraining his left ankle against the Rebels. Purifoy entered Saturday first for Auburn in minutes per game (30.5) and second on the team in points per game (14.2) and rebounds per game (6.0).
“He’s got a pretty good lemon on his ankle,” Pearl said. “We ran an (out-of-bounds play), and we got (Ole Miss center Sebastian Saiz) matched up on him on the wing. … He settled for a pull-up 3, and Saiz came up under him, and he landed on his ankle. It’s a pretty good sprain.”
Pearl said “it’s a pretty good chance” Purifoy would miss Auburn’s next matchup against Missouri on Tuesday, Jan. 10 (7 p.m. ET on SEC Network). Pearl didn’t give an estimate on just how much time Purifoy would miss.
Purifoy left the game against Ole Miss with 7:12 remaining in the first half. He had 6 points on 2-for-4 shooting from 3-point range with three rebounds and two steals before his injury.
The Centreville, Ala., native came to the Auburn bench in the second half on crutches. Purifoy entered Saturday having played 47 more minutes than the next-closest Tiger on the roster.
Without Purifoy, Auburn allowed 55 points and shot just 38.5 percent from the field —including a 3-for-12 mark from 3-point range — in the second half.
“Losing Danjel was tough,” Pearl said. “He’s an important part of our scheme. I thought that Devin Waddell and LaRon Smith and TJ Lang all came together and did a pretty nice job in his absence.”
Auburn backup forwards Anfernee McLemore and Waddell each played 18 minutes against Ole Miss. The Tigers also used Lang, a 6-foot-7 wing player, at the 4 during his absence, along with backup center Smith. Those four players combined for 7 points, all by McLemore (4) and Lang (3).
Now without Purifoy, the Tigers will look to end their winless start in SEC play — the longest such streak for Pearl as a Division I head coach — on Tuesday against a Missouri team that has lost six straight contests.
“I’m 10-5,” Pearl said. “I’m going to (Columbia, Missouri) on Tuesday. That’s how I’m looking at it. 10-5, going to Columbia.”