By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Welcome to Auburn basketball T. J. Dunans, Tyler Harris and Kareem Canty.
And Auburn can thank TJ Lang's clutch 3-pointer with 16.3 seconds left, too.
The three newcomers combined for 51 points, and Lang's shot gave the Tigers the lead to send Auburn past UAB 75-74 Friday night in a rocking, and standing-room-only, Auburn Arena in the season-opener for both teams.
"I told my teammates, let's give them a show," said Canty, who just did that with a team-high 20 points.
UAB's last gasp with turned away with a Horace Spencer block with 1.8 seconds remaining. The crowd roared.
"We had a great college basketball environment tonight. Our crowd delivered. The crowd was phenomenal," said coach Bruce Pearl.
Dunans and Harris are fresh arrivals. Canty was with the team but sat out last year after transferring.
They all fit in Friday night.
The new-look Tigers handled the Blazers, who returned all five starters from a team that made it to the third round of the NCAA Tournament last season. Canty scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half. Dunans added 17 points and Harris scored 14.
Lang had played himself into foul trouble, but he was on the court for the biggest shot of the game.
Spencer was on the court on UAB's turnaround trip down the court. But just barely. Pearl said he considered taking him out. He stayed in for his fifth block of the game.
"If he's not on the floor, they score and win the game," Pearl said.
"I just told coach," Spencer said, "I've got his back and he's got my back."
Spencer said it was the first time he's ever blocked a shot to win a game.
"I knew in my heart and my mind we had to get that win," Spencer said.
Auburn was hot in the beginning, but UAB closed the first half on a hot streak and closed to 65-64 with 5:42 left. UAB took its first and only lead with 36 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Lang's big shot.
The Tigers were playing shorthanded from the opening whistle. Guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen missed the game with a shoulder injury. Guard New Williams missed it with a sore knee. Guard Bryce Brown didn't play while serving a one-game suspension for playing in a summer league game.
Auburn started fast, streaking to a 30-16 lead with 6:15 left and enjoyed a 10-point lead with three minutes left in the first half. But the Blazers finished with flourish, outscoring the Tigers 11-2 to hit intermission down 40-37.
UAB tied it at 42-all early in the second half.
Auburn's newcomers had made their presence known in the first half. Dunans had 11 points and four rebounds in the first half. "Dunans was a real factor. You can tell he's a gamer," Pearl said.
Auburn has a quick turnaround, playing host to Colorado at 2 p.m. Tuesday in an ESPN game.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine
-- AuburnPix (@AuburnPix) November 14, 2015