By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn finally got one of its injured players back Saturday, then the tough-luck Tigers promptly lost another.
The return of T.J. Dunans after missing 15 games with a knee injury was offset by Tyler Harris suffering a concussion in the second half. That unhappy turn of events, and Ole Miss' 3-point shooting, added up to the Rebels beating Auburn 69-59 in front of 8,046 in Auburn Arena.
Harris, Auburn's leading scorer since Kareem Canty left the team, had 13 points in the first half. He left the game with 16:36 remaining, after contact with an Ole Miss player on a layup.
"He took a pretty serious hit. A real serious hit," said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. "The next 24 hours are very important as to whether or not something is going to keep him out awhile, or something he can bounce back quicker. He's got to go through the (concussion) protocol."
Pearl said Harris "was out for a while."
"We'll have to see what Monday brings."
Sunday, Harris tweeted that he couldn't "express how much I appreciate the AU fans for the prayers & support! I'm feeling better this morning the good Lord is keeping me strong."
Really wanted to finish that game out but had to be precaution of my health!
— Tyler Harris (@1TimeTy) February 21, 2016
Harris' 13 first-half points stood up as Auburn's high total for the game.
Cinmeon Bowers had his third straight double-double, and 12th this season, with 11 points and 18 rebounds. Bowers said the loss of Tyler hurt.
"That affected us a lot. We needed Tyler tonight," he said.
Dunans said he thought Auburn would have won if Harris had not gotten hurt.
"I think we would have had them. He's a big part to our team," Dunans said.
Pearl said his first concern was Harris' health and not Auburn's season-long injury problems.
"My only thought was, 'Tyler is down.' I saw a little blood in his nose. I saw the hit. I saw his eyes. There wasn't a single thought, 'here we go again, another injury.' It just didn't. My thought is, 'he's hurt.'"
Pearl said Dunans' return "kind of snuck up on us, so we weren't able to really get him involved in the game plan.
'You could see some rust, but it won't take us long to get him going again."
Ole Miss improved to 17-10 overall and 7-7 in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn fell to 10-16 overall and 4-10 in the league. Auburn adjusted its lineup on the fly Saturday, as it has done all year, first with an injury to Tahj Shamsid-Deen, then Dunans, then the departure of Canty.
Dunans left the court in December averaging 12.2 points a game. He returned to score 6 points.
The first half played out like the entire game in Oxford, where both shots 3s and then shot more 3s. And, like in Oxford, Ole Miss' Stefon Moody was hot. He hit four 3-pointers in the first half on the way to 19 points.
He finished with 23.
Auburn led 7-0, but Ole Miss came back and had a 40-33 halftime lead despite Horace Spencer's first-half defense. He followed up his career-best seven-block performance at Arkansas with five more blocks in the first half Saturday.
Auburn got as close as a 5-point deficit with 6:31 remaining, but scored only three more points.
The TIgers will try to bounce back against Georgia at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Auburn Arena.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: