Boulder, CO – In the fifth game of ESPN’s annual College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, the Auburn Tigers entered their first road game of the new season by traveling to face the Colorado Buffaloes. Auburn, under first-year head coach and proven winner, Bruce Pearl (.700 winning percent with never a losing season) opened the season with a home win over UW-Milwaukee 83-73 to go 1-0 on the young season. After going 14-16 (6-12 in conference) last year the Tigers welcome transfers Antoine Mason, K.C. Ross-Miller, and Cinmeon Bowers to go with the impressive KT Harrell who was voted to the SEC coaches’ preseason All-SEC second team.
Harrell is Auburn’s senior guard and the leading returning scorer in the SEC with 18.3 ppg last year, good enough for sixth in league scoring. He scored in double figures in 29 of 30 games, and shot 43.3 percent from the field and 35.9 percent on threes. Harrell is the first Auburn player to be voted to the coaches’ preseason All-SEC team since DeWayne Reed in 2009-10.
Mason will score points in bunches , and Bowers (6’7”) a nationally ranked JUCO player averaged 12.4 ppg and 8.9 rpg last season while at Chipola College. PG Ross-Miller had 3.5 assists per game last year while shooting 39.3 percent from three-point range.
Against UW-Milwaukee, Auburn had to come back from a 12-point second half as their pressure defense wore down the Panthers. Bowers led the Tigers with a double-double, scoring 18 points and 17 rebounds. Harrell had a game-high 20 points for the Tigers, while Mason added 19.
This season Colorado will be led by senior guard, Askia Booker, a 6-2 point guard and pro-prospect junior big-man, 6’10” Josh Scott as well as the most depth CU has seen in Coach Tad Boyle’s five years.
In their home opener, the Buffs beat Drexel 65-48 despite Boyle shaking the starting line-up due to a team discipline issue and Booker coming off a recent illness. Trademark defense and rebounding by CU made the difference as well as controlling tempo, as Scott led all scorers with 21 and rebounders with 11.
The first five minutes had the quick pace that CU desires using their high-altitude edge giving them the early 12-10 lead. Auburn hung tough switching defenses between match-up zone and full-court traps to keep the game close at 19-15 with Harrell hitting open 3s. But the CU fast-break was effective in pushing their lead as high as 10 points in the first half before the Tigers closed the gap to 38-34 behind eight offensive rebounds and Harrell’s 14 points. . Colorado was balanced with Wesley Gordon (6’9”, soph) and Xavier Johnson (6’7”, jr.) scoring eight and 10 points respectively as the team shot 56 percent.
In the second-half CU raced out to a nine point lead within five minutes (49-40) behind the hustle of big-man Scott running the court and getting layups. Going into the game’s final ten minutes the Buffs held a 16 point lead despite an ill-timed timed technical foul, as Booker scored seven points in a :43 span. Adding to Tiger misfortune, Auburn’s Bower picked up his fourth foul at this point. Closing out the final five minutes, Colorado (2-0)led by 24 and cruised to an impressive 90-59 victory.
The CU Buffaloes were led in scoring by Xavier Johnson’s 17 while Wesley Gordon led in rebounding with a double-double (16 points and 12 boards). Josh Scott chipped in 17 points and nine rebounds while the team shot 56 percent, held Auburn to 30 percent shooting and enjoyed a +14 rebounding margin.
KT Harrell led all scorers and the Auburn Tigers with 20 points and Bowers had 13 rebounds to go with 11 points.
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