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Dec 17, 2017
  textbookx.com (Akademos, Inc.)
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Auburn Basketball Preview

The offseason for the Auburn menís basketball program was one to forget. Adding to the teamís loss to Barry University in its first exhibition didnít help the sting. However, the Tigers will continue moving forward into head coach Bruce Pearlís fifth season.

Auburn opens the season against Norfolk State on November 10 off a 2016-17 season that included an 18-14 overall record and 7-11 mark in conference play. Auburn had success at home, including winning 10 of 15 games.

Last yearís team won some big games. The Tigers defeated UConn on the road, beat Alabama twice and won at UAB. It was a scrappy team that gave Pearl enough confidence to say in March that he expected this yearís team to make the tournament.

That expectation, however, likely changed in the last few months. Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person was indicted on six charges by the FBI, including corruption. With the investigation ongoing, Pearl decided to keep Auburn star players Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley from playing until they are completely cleared in case they were involved in the Person scandal and later ruled ineligible.

With Purifoy and Wiley benched, Auburn is already facing a tough challenge, but the Tigers still have some talent taking the court this year.

Things offensively will likely begin with Mustapha Heron. The guard scored a team-high 15.2 points per game last year and added 6.1 rebounds per contest. Heron who was the only Tiger to start every game, shot 42.3 percent beyond the arc and made 44.2 percent of all shots.

Joining Heron as a sophomore is point guard Jared Harper. Harper started 30 of 32 games and averaged 24.2 minutes per contest. He averaged 11.4 points per game and had a team-high 95 assists.

Auburn has a true shooter back in Bryce Brown. The junior made 40 percent of his 3-pointers last year and averaged 7.5 points per game mostly off the bench. Brown has been an impact for Auburn when it needs a big shot.

T.J. Lang is another guard who will likely need to step up this season. Lang saw his playing time cut last season but still averaged 16.4 minutes per game. He averaged 4.3 points and 1.8 rebounds per contest.

Auburnís chances of being a potential post-season team likely depends on how quickly, if at all, Wiley and Purifoy return.

Purifoy finished near the top in points (11.5) and rebounds (4.7) per game. After missing his true freshman season due to ineligibility, Purifoy last year became the player fans believed he was.

The same could be said of Wiley, who enrolled early and played his freshman season as a 17-year-old. Wileyís play continued throughout the season, as he averaged 8.8 points per game and 4.7 rebounds. Wileyís ceiling continues to increase, as during the summer he was a star on the 18-under USA team.

Auburn has the potential to be a good team, but a lot of it depends on how the scandal surrounding Person plays out. If the Tigers can return Wiley and Purifoy to the court, things begin looking much brighter in Auburn Arena.

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