With Jordon Granger providing cover, Auburn's Antoine Mason shoots against Texas A&M
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Bruce Pearl lost one of his starters to a bum shoulder and the game because of height disadvantage that was too big to overcome.
Auburn's basketball coach didn't find too much to like in Texas A&M's 71-61 win Tuesday night in Auburn Arena, not after losing the battle underneath and losing guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen to a recurring shoulder injury that knocked him out of the game in the first half.
Texas A&M won the rebounding battle 36-29 and outscored the Tigers 42-14 in the paint.
"My biggest thing moving forward is I've got to find a way for the team to play better offensively... it's been challenging," Pearl said.
Texas A&M improved to 14-5 overall and 5-2 in the SEC. Auburn dropped to 10-10 overall and 2-5 in the league. The Tigers will try to rebound at Pearl's old school, Tennessee, on Saturday.
"There's a whole lot of season left. We can't look down. We've got to look forward," said Auburn guard Antoine Mason, who led the Tigers with 16 points.
Shamsid-Deen, who has been trying to play through injuries to both shoulders, had to leave late in the first half after aggravating his right shoulder. He watched the second half from the bench wearing an ice pack.
"Tahj is an important defensive player for us because he's a great communicator and he's quick and makes plays," Pearl said.
Pearl said his right shoulder "went out" again.
"That shoulder hasn't popped out in several weeks. I'm sure they're concerned about it," Pearl said.
Texas A&M jumped to an 8-0 lead, and led 15-4 as the game turned into an old-fashioned 3-point shooting contest.
Auburn was willing to play that game.
Texas A&M led Auburn 23-20 when eight of the 16 total made shots were 3-pointers. The Tigers got to within 2 on several occasions, but missed their last three shots of the half and trailed 34-27 at the break.
But the Aggies were unrelenting in the second half, mixing 3-pointers with dunks. Pearl give the nod to A&M's height advantage at every position.
"It has a cumulative affect and has a lot of 42-14 in the paint," he said.
"It caused trouble, especially on the baseline," Mason said. "They just outmuscled us."
Pearl said Auburn had been moving forward until Tuesday.
"We didn't play with the same energy and effort that we've been playing with. We didn't play well together offensively," he said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine
A lot of Bruce Pearl fans at Auburn Arena tonight pic.twitter.com/rMalvAV4Gv
-- Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) January 28, 2015