Kareem Canty gets up to help lead Auburn past Mercer
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- CoachBruce Pearl saw Kareem Canty hit the floor, saw his pained expression and expected the worst.
"It looked like he broke his leg."
Not so. Canty laid there for a bit, was helped up, limped to the locker room and, 52 seconds off the game clock later, returned and quickly hit a downtown 3-pointer to help Auburn beat Mercer 78-71 Tuesday night in Auburn Arena.
"It looked like he was out for the year, not a minute," Pearl said.
Canty led Auburn with 21 points that included his comeback 3, and then another with 29 seconds left to stretch a 1-point lead into a bit of breathing room.
Canty said he initially thought the injury was bad. But by the time he got up, "I didn't even want to go back in the locker room to get taped."
And so there he was again, hitting four 3-pointers after hitting eight 3-pointers the game before in Nashville. His final one Tuesday came with a 69-68 lead.
There would be no second-guessing.
"That's going in. It's just going in," Pearl said. "He's a very dangerous offensive player."
Canty had help. Tyler Harris recorded his third straight double-double, this time with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Cinmeon Bowers scored 13 points and had 11 rebounds. T.J. Dunans added 14 points.
But it wasn't easy. Auburn guard TJ Lang hurt his ankle early in the game and did not return. Yet another guard, Tahj Shamsid-Deen, returned to the lineup wearing a brace after a 17-day layoff as he nursed a hurt shoulder. Pearl predicted Canty would be out a couple of days with his injured ankle.
"Things got dicey when Lang goes down," Pearl said. "Tahj was on limited minutes."
But, "Our point guards had 10 assists and no turnovers."
Auburn improved to 5-2. Mercer, which had beaten the Tigers in two of their last three meetings, fell to 8-2.
Auburn led at the half as it has in every game this season, this time 32-31 thanks to a Dunans dunk right before the buzzer. His 12 points led all scorers in the first half and it took fancy shooting in the final minutes to make that happen. The Tigers were hovering around 29 percent shooting until it closed out the half by hitting five of their final six shots.
Auburn went on a 20-5 run from late in the first half through the early stages of the second half, but Mercer did not go away. The Tigers led 65-63 with 3:47 remaining and 69-68 with 1:20 left.
Canty stretched that lead with his 3-pointer with 29 seconds left.
Auburn's next game is at No. 10 Xavier at 11 a.m. Saturday.
"We need to play better. We will play better," Pearl said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine