AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn is again hitting the road without one of its key players.
Redshirt freshman Danjel Purifoy, who injured his left ankle in the first half of Auburn’s home loss to Ole Miss on Jan. 7, will not join the Tigers on their trip to Lexington this weekend. Bruce Pearl’s team takes on John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday afternoon in Rupp Arena.
“He is out of the boot and moving around and progressing faster than we thought when originally diagnosed,” Pearl said on Friday afternoon. “He will not travel to Kentucky.”
Purifoy was one of Auburn’s top scorers (13.7 points per game) through the Tigers first 15 games. Purifoy also was a huge factor on the glass, adding 5.8 rebounds per game (currently ranks third among SEC freshmen). Purifoy also ranks third in steals (1.47) an fourth in scoring in the conference.
The Tigers won their first SEC road game of the season 77-72 on Tuesday night in Mizzou Arena, but it wasn’t easy without their starting four. Missouri out rebounded Auburn 51-42.
To deal with the loss of Purifoy, Pearl is rotating several players down low. Among them: true freshman Anfernee McLemore, senior forward Devin Waddell and junior T.J Lang. While Lang, a 6-foor-7 guard, admits he doesn’t mind taking advantage of offensive mismatches in the post, he realizes the challenges Purifoy’s absence presents.
“Danjel is instant offense and we he doesn’t have it going offensively, he can do what he did in the UConn game, grabbing 15 rebounds,” Lang said. “So he’s versatile offensively and defensively so he’s a nightmare matchup for any team at the four position. Losing him really hurts us and we’ve got to find a way to hold it down until he comes back.”
Auburn upset then-No. 13 Kentucky 75-70 when the teams met last January on the Plains. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT on Saturday.