Auburn's Jordon Granger has the inside track against Harvard
By Charles Goldberg
Auburn flew a long way across the Pacific, but still couldn't escape the injury bug in the Diamond Head Classic on Wednesday.
T.J. Dunans went down hard and had to be carried off the floor in a 69-51 loss to Harvard in a tournament second-round game, leaving the Tigers shorthanded for another time this season. Coach Bruce Pearl's ray of sunshine from Hawaii: He didn't think the injury to Dunans' left knee is serious.
Down throughout, Auburn shot itself out of any chance of a comeback when it missed 17 of its final 18 shots. The Tigers will play the loser of Wednesday's Oklahoma-Hawaii game at 5:30 p.m., Auburn time on Friday on ESPN2, but without Dunans or fellow guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen, who is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.
Auburn fell to 6-4. Harvard improved to 5-6.
Kareem Canty will likely see most of the duty at point guard now. His backup?
"Which walk-on would you like me to play?" Pearl asked on Auburn's post-game radio show.
Dunans suffered the knee injury with one second left in the first half. Graduate assistant and former Auburn player Frankie Sullivan picked Dunans up in his arms and carried him off the floor.
"I don't think it's serious," Pearl said. "His knee is so stable, because of how he's built, so we don't think it's a stability issue. It shouldn't be a long-term thing. Gosh, if it was, we'd be in a world of hurt. He should be OK."
Pearl isn't sure what his lineup will look like Friday.
"We'll figure that out. I don't know. I don't know," he said.
Canty, who had been carrying Auburn with his deadly 3-point shooting, hit 1 of 15 shots and finished with three points. He had averaged 25.3 points in Auburn's previous four games.
Cinmeon Bowers led Auburn with 17 points. Tyler Harris had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Harvard started fast, leading 14-4 after five minutes, then 17-4 and then 28-12 with 5:30 remaining in the first half. Auburn cut the 16-point deficit to 10, but trailed 40-29 at the half.
Auburn fell behind by 20 in the second half, but cut Harvard's advantage to 59-47 with 7:25 left, and was still down by 12 with 5:12 remaining. But the Tigers were having trouble throughout, scoring a season-low 29 first-half points, and then a season-low 22 in the second half.
"We said from the very beginning, we kind of go as Dunans goes," Pearl said. "T.J. Dunans has played well in six games. And he's played very poorly in four games, and we've lost them all.
"He's a guy we're counting on."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine