Clemson defends its home court for a winover Auburnat Littlejohn Coliseum
By Charles Goldberg
CLEMSON, S.C.-- Sometimes, Bruce Pearl said, Cinmeon Bowers does the darndest things.
Maybe he's talking about taking long 3-pointers. Or maybe bringing the ball up the court at full speed.
Or turning in his fifth double-double of the young season. The 6-foot-7, 278-pound Auburn forward scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds Sunday, but it wasn't enough for the new-look Tigers, who fell to Clemson 72-61 in Littlejohn Coliseum.
Auburn welcomed Antoine Mason back to the lineup and watched the debut of 7-foot-2 Trayvon Reed, but even with Bowers shaking out of a slump, a late rally that got the Tigersas close as 64-59 wasn't enough.
Clemson improved to 6-3. Auburn fell to 3-5.
Mason had missed six games since injuring his ankle in the first game and Reed barely had a practice session before taking floor. Mason, the nation's leading returning scorer, was sharp enough, finishing with 14 points. Reed was shut out.
Bowers was steady after putting his slump, and finals, behind him.
"I was stressed about finals. Three consecutive games I was terrible," Bowers said. "Now that finals are over, I feel better about myself."
So does Pearl.
"He's a great kid. Sometimes he does the darndest things that make you wonder if he's actually allowed to do that stuff," Pearl said. "I'm a player's coach and what that means I give my players some freedoms. And as long as he plays hard, and gets 12 defensive rebounds, he didn't turn the ball over and shoots 7-for-15, I'm going to let him go a little bit."
Pearl said Bowers had a good semester academically, "but there was a lot of work and a lot of pressure. I think fans forget that.
"It's great to see him bounce back."
Auburn leading scorer KT Harrell had 16 points.
But Clemson went on two decisive scoring runs to keep Auburn at bay.
"My team competes," Pearl said.
Sunday, it competed with something of a new lineup, and will again Wednesday when Alex Thompson returns to the team.
The Tigers received a lift with the return of Mason.
"It's good to have Antoine Mason back, and he'll be even more effective," Pearl said. "There are a lot of moving parts. Trayvon Reed joined us, with one day to get him in. It's distracting to the team, but the team is excited to have his presence in there."
Auburn has played only three of its first eight games at home, but the Tigers will begin a stretch of five consecutive home games, beginning at 8 p.m. Wednesday against Winthrop. Then the Tigers will welcome in Xavier, Texas Southern, Middle Tennessee State and North Alabama to Auburn Arena before starting SEC play at Vanderbilt.
"The next five games are a must-win for us," Bowers said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: