By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Bruce Pearl said he told his basketball team Saturday night not to be discouraged.
"There are a lot of opportunities out there," the Auburn basketball coach said, "and we've got a couple of guys that are taking advantage of the opportunity."
Cinmeon Bowers, the sometimes-power forward, sometimes-point guard, made the most of his opportunity Saturday, turning in his 12th double-double of the season with 12 points and 15 rebounds, though it wasn't nearly enough to stop Vanderbilt from beating the Tigers 86-57 in Auburn Arena.
"In many ways, he's really stepped up," Pearl said. "Sometimes he goes too fast, and probably a couple of his turnovers were unforced, but he's out there battling. For him to have 15 rebounds, and the next closest guy four, gives you an indication of the energy and effort he's putting forth.
Bowers has played different roles since the suspension and then departure of leading scorer and assist leader Kareem Canty. Pearl announced Thursday that Canty had left the team and would make himself available for the NBA draft.
"Obviously, they're shorthanded," said Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings. "It's tough to lose your leading scorer and point guard all in one swipe. It's not the team they went into the season thinking they would have."
Stallings nonetheless said Bowers delivered.
"Bowers was a load. He's such a good rebounder and good athlete," he said.
The Tigers played their third straight game without Canty and have played the entire SEC season without injured guards Tahj Shamsid-Deen and T.J. Dunans. Auburn has also been slowed by a lingering back issue for Tyler Harris.
"Tyler is really not 100 percent," Pearl said. "His back is bad. He's not able to practice. We need him to play like he's capable of. "
Harris, Auburn's second-leading scorer when he was teamed with Canty, scored four points. Bryce Brown and TJ Lang each scored 14 points. Pearl said he was pleased with Lang's aggressiveness. He fired up 18 shots.
"Coach Pearl told me I needed to attack the rim more," Lang said.
Lang also said "we have enough talent to win games. We just have to put it all together. One of these games it will all come together."
Auburn handled 7-foot-1 Luke Kornet better Saturday than in their first meeting when he had a triple-double in the Commodores' 75-57 win. Kornet, whose highlight that January night was 10 block, scored 5 points and had 7 rebounds Saturday. His services were only needed for 26 minutes this time.
Vanderbilt improved to 15-10 overall and 7-5 in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn, which plays at Arkansas on Wednesday, fell to 9-15 overall and 3-9 in the league.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine