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'Everybody's happy' as Auburn turns attention to Alabama
Jan. 18, 2016

Kareem Canty and Auburn look to follow up their success against Kentucky with a win against Alabama
Kareem Canty and Auburn look to follow up their success against Kentucky with a win against Alabama

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. ― Kareem Canty is still hearing from his friends and family in Harlem about the biggest Auburn basketball win in a long time.

Those are some of the rewards for hitting clutch shots down the stretch to beat Kentucky.

"Everybody’s proud of me, proud of us for that huge win," Canty said. "That’s like a huge win for my neighborhood right there for many different reasons. Everybody’s just happy for me, and they know I had that game circled since last year, but I got to do a better job of treating every game like it’s Kentucky."

There should be no problem for the next game. A few days after Auburn beat Kentucky 75-70, rival Alabama visits Auburn Arena at 8 p.m. Tuesday in a game that will be televised by the SEC Network. The record book says Auburn is 8-8 overall and 2-3 in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama is 10-6 overall and 1-3 in the league.

The rivalry angle trumps the records, of course, and Auburn comes in with momentum after beating the Wildcats.

"Our guys needed some success, they really did," Pearl said. "My staff needed it because we’ve been grinding and been plugging and that game came at an important time for us to be able to have a chance to regroup a little bit and put a little wind in our sails."

Canty went down when with an injured ankle when he made the tying basket with 1:23 left against Kentucky. Auburn called timeout, and Canty came back to hit the go-ahead free throw on his way to 26 points. Coach Bruce Pearl said Monday that Canty should be available for the Alabama game.

Pearl said Canty and his teammates played inspired basketball against Kentucky. Pearl will be looking for more of the same against Alabama.

"If I can get Kareem and others to be as excited about playing every opponent that they play, and he can play at that inspired level on both ends of the floor, now you're seeing one of the best guards in the league and one of the best guards in the country," Pearl said. "Is it hard to do? Sure it's hard to do. But that's what allows me to say that. If he's not able to do that, then we'll remember the moments that he did, but it won't put him in that class of being one of the best guards in the country. He's got the ability to do it. He's got the heart to do it."

Auburn found that heart against Kentucky.

"A lot of teams get down by 12 against Kentucky and think the game's over," Canty said. "But we stuck with it. The fans stuck with it, and then by the time I looked up, we cut the lead to like two or three and then we had the lead at one point, and I was like, 'I'm not letting this go now.' It was time for us to win it."

Pearl said there's room for both rebuilding Auburn and rebuilding Alabama in the state.

"For me to build this program, we've got to sell out games and we're doing that. We've got to play a certain style of play. We've got to win enough," Pearl said. "We've got to convince recruits that we're worthy of their consideration and we're doing that. From a standpoint of my building this program, if Alabama builds their program, it won't have any effect on how I build this program. We can both build great programs.
"If I get this thing going here, it's not going to hurt Alabama. If they get it going up there, it's going to have no effect on me in getting this going."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:


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