AUBURN, Ala. — As expected, Auburn will be missing some of its post presence when the Tigers hit the road this week.
Freshman Danjel Purifoy, who suffered an ankle injury during the first half of the Tigers’ loss to Ole Miss on Saturday evening, will not travel to Columbia as Auburn takes on Missouri. For scouting purposes, head coach Bruce Pearl didn’t speak to Purifoy’s projected status beyond Tuesday night.
“Danjel is an integral part of our scheme because he is such a unique pick-and-pop four-man,” Pearl said. “Because he can do things inside and out offensively and defensively — he’s a huge part of what we do. And obviously he leads us in minutes played, which is an indication of what his value is.”
Pearl believes the tough one-on-one matchups Purifoy creates are at least part of the reason, along with similar matchups from his freshmen guards, why teams have fallen into zones against Auburn in recent games.
Purifoy scored 6 points and snatched 3 rebounds on Saturday night before hobbling off with some assistance from Auburn’s training staff.
Through 15 games the season, Purifoy has been one of Pearl’s main scorers, averaging 13.7 points per game. The forward also been a factor on the boards (5.8 rebounds per game) and has been one of the Tigers’ best passers (2.2 assists per game).
The Tigers are prepared to make adjustments down low, where Anfernee McLemore, LaRon Smith, Devin Waddell and Horace Spencer will rotate in place of Purifoy.
“A couple of those guys have to play more than they’re playing right now,” Pearl said. “And so we’re going to have to, we have reshuffled the deck accordingly. TJ Lang can also play that spot if we decide to play smaller.”
Purifoy’s absence could create problems against Mizzou, who is led by a pair of 6-foot-7 forwards in Jordan Barnett (11.0 ppg) and Kevin Puryear (11.9 ppg).