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Bruce Pearl keeping the faith, staying the course
Feb. 9, 2015

Bruce Pearl is still coaching 'em up in Auburn Arena

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  The topic was Bruce Pearl's first season at Auburn, the one in which the excitement of his arrival still helps fill Auburn Arena, and the one in which his team finds itself trying to finish on the plus-side of the ledger.

Through it all, through the 11-12 record, Pearl says his Tigers can find their way, starting with Tuesday's home game against Arkansas in yet another 8 p.m. start. Pearl has never had a losing season, and he says he still likes his team.

"I have had more difficult teams in winning seasons than this team. I am not having fun losing, and I am not going to have fun losing," he said.

But, he added, "This is a good team."

"This has been a good team to coach and they still are. We have to keep dissecting scouting reports and trying to win games. We have to keep doing something to deserve the support we are receiving, because the support we are receiving is way more than we deserve based on the outcomes. Given that as a coach and as a teacher, I have won more, but I have had much more difficult times with other teams than I have here.

"I am not worried about my record. I am worried about Auburn's record, and I am worried about trying to get the most out of them. As I said, at one point early on in the conference season, we won’t be favored for another game."

The schedule-maker has done Auburn no recent favors. Auburn will haved played the league's Top Teams Not Named Kentucky in consecutive games, starting with Ole Miss last Saturday and now Arkansas on Tuesday.

Arkansas is 18-5 overall and 7-3 SEC. Auburn is 3-7 in the league.

But the Tigers beat LSU on the road two games ago, and Pearl can point to that as something to build on. He also can point to this: Cinmeon Bowers has 14 double-doubles and leads the SEC in rebounding; Antoine Mason has scored 47 points the least two games and KT Harrell has nine 3-pointers over that time.

Auburn's lack of height, and lack of depth, has forced Pearl to play an outside game. The Tigers lead the SEC in 3-pointers made, with 159; and 3-pointers attempted, 456. That's 99 more attempts than Kentucky.

The Tigers average 20.9 3-point attempts per game, though they were happy enough to fire up 30  in a loss to Ole Miss last Saturday.

Now, it's Arkansas and Pearl's scouting report:

"They turn you over more than anyone else in the league," Pearl said. "They turn you over 16-plus times -- which means you get 16 less possessions to take the ball and score. 

"They shoot pretty quickly. They lead the league in field goals attempted. They are going to get it down there and beat you in transition. They play unselfishly. They do a really good job. They have five guys out there that can score. It is an equal-opportunity offense for them out there and they are really hard to guard. They are so long that it is hard to shoot over."

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



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