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Auburn's challenge: Slow down LSU's Ben Simmons
Feb. 1, 2016

Bruce Pearl looking for  a bounce back from Auburn against LSU
Bruce Pearl looking for a bounce back from Auburn against LSU

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. -- Bruce Pearl figures LSU may have the No. 1 pro prospect in Ben Simmons.

If only that's all LSU had to offer as the Auburn coach maps out a plan for Tuesday's 6 p.m. game against the Bengal Tigers at Auburn Arena.

"Josh Gray was the junior college player of the year, and last year one of their top two or three scorers, and he's their seventh man. I'm not sure who my seventh man is," Pearl said Monday.

The good news for Pearl is he has more players than the game before. Cinmeon Bowers, who was held out of Auburn's loss to Oklahoma State last Saturday because of a discipline issue, will be back. He, along with Tyler Harris, will be charged in trying to keep Simmons in check.

Few really have. The preseason SEC player of the year selection is averaging 19.5 points and 12.5 rebounds a game, and has 15 double-doubles.

"He's one of those guys that makes everybody else on his team better, and I think that's the reason why he's being talked about as a potential No. 1 pick, because on a professional team, that's a rare commodity," Pearl said.

Auburn is 9-11 overall and 3-5 as it jumps back into SEC play. LSU is 13-8 overall and 6-2 in the league.

LSU came close to beating No. 1 Oklahoma last Saturday, losing in the closing moments 77-75. Auburn lost to Oklahoma State 74-63 on the same day with Horace Spencer stepping up with a solid game in Bowers' absence. Spencer had six points, 11 rebounds and six blocks against Oklahoma State in his best game in this, his freshman year.

Now, Pearl will have Spencer and Bowers.

"We know Cim is a player that giveth and taketh away on the court, but there are certain things that we wouldn't have been able to accomplish without him," Pearl said. "I feel like this being his senior year I think he's pressing a little bit.

"Cim certainly has been disappointed that we've not been able to be more successful, that we've not won more.

"Let's just see how the season ends, let's see how it progresses and let's see how he can finish up. One of the things that I'm most focused on, again, he's 15 hours away from his degree and leaving Auburn in really good standing, and that's what I would like to see for him."

The game will be televised by the SEC Network.

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


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