By Charles Goldberg
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Bruce Pearl knows a little a bit about playing at the University of Missouri. It was his first road game as a college head coach.
It was also his first loss as a college head coach.
That was a long time ago, in 1992 when he was at Southern Indiana, but the basketball truism of that day is still in force today.
"Road wins are hard to get and they are sweet. They are separators, and they are the difference-makers," he says.
Pearl will be trying to beat Missouri at 8 p.m. Saturday, and now as Auburn's head coach, in a game that will be televised by ESPN2. Missouri beat Auburn and Pearl in Columbia 63-61 last year. The Tigers returned the favor in Auburn Arena. This season, Auburn is 7-6 overall and 1-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Missouri is 7-7 overall and 0-1 in the league, but are 7-1 at home.
Pearl said he doesn't think the road will affect his Tigers in their first SEC road game. Auburn has veterans, and a four-game swing through Xavier and then Hawaii had the Tigers far from home already.
"We," Pearl said, "have other issues…"
The other issues include a lack of depth because of injuries. Auburn was forced to play four players at least 31 minutes each in Tuesday's loss to South Carolina, with Kareem Canty and Tyler Harris going 38 and 37 minutes, respectively.
Tahj Shamsid-Deen, T.J. Dunans and New Williams are out with injuries and Danjel Purifoy has not been cleared to play.
"That's four scholarship guards that are not available," Pearl said. "I guess I have more that are unavailable than I do that are available. It doesn't matter. You have other guys that are out there. I am confident that Patrick Keim can handle the role behind Kareem. TJ Lang has to play better for us to be successful, and he has to be more aggressive defensively and offensively."
Auburn has a short bench. Pearl said Missouri doesn't and will play "10 or 11 guys." Still, "these are the kinds of games where we will have an opportunity."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine