By Charles Goldberg
Bruce Pearl looked at the game and wondered where all the offense had gone.
"People are going to look at the score," he said, "and think it's halftime."
No, it was a final. Tulsa beat Auburn 53-35 Wednesday night in Las Vegas in the MGM Main Event Heavyweight Bracket just three days after the Tigers scored 105 points against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Cold shooting, foul trouble and Antoine Mason's lingering ankle injury all played a factor.
Tulsa led at half, built a cushion to start the second half and then both teams went ice cold. Tulsa scored 10 points over the final 13 minutes. Auburn scored four.
The highlight for the Tigers was the play of newcomer Cinmeon Bowers, who turned in his fourth double-double of the young season with 17 points and 14 rebounds. He's the first Auburn player with four straight double-doubles since Jeff Moore did it five straight times in the 1987-88 season.
Bowers had almost half of Auburn's points and exactly half of Auburn's rebounds. No other Auburn player scored more than six points.
"Cinmeon was the only guy out there to put up productive numbers," Pearl said on his post-game radio show.
"He's a workhorse in there."
Auburn, playing its fourth straight team that played in the NCAA Tournament last year, fell to 2-2. Tulsa improved to 3-1. Auburn will play Oregon State in Las Vegas at 8, Auburn time, on Wednesday night on ESPN3.
Pearl will be looking for a better shooting night after the Tigers hit just 2-of-22 3-point attempts Monday. The Tigers, playing shorthanded because of Mason's injury, were hurt when leading scorer KT Harrell picked up his second foul early in the game, necessitating a quick trip to the bench. He finished with two points after leading Auburn in scoring each of the first three games.
"KT Harrell has been terrific...he didn't have it tonight," Pearl said. "He picks up two fouls early in the game and I've got to put him on the bench. I've already got Antoine Mason sitting on the bench. My starting wings are not playing. It was really tough. It seemed like an absolute struggle from that point forward."
Pearl said he thought his team was caught off guard, especially after four players scored career highs on Friday. By Monday, and after a second long road trip, Pearl said "that travels just wears you out. It might have been a little too much travel."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine