Feb. 21, 2014
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. --
Auburn's Tahj Shamsid-Deen is giving opponents something else to worry about (Zach Bland photo)
Tahj Shamsid-Deen ventured Wednesday night where no Auburn basketball player had gone all season.
He cracked the stranglehold on scoring held by Chris Denson and KT Harrell.
Shamsid-Deen scored an Auburn-high 17 points against Florida, marking the first time in 24 games that neither Denson nor Harrell led the Tigers in scoring. Auburn lost the game, but at least gave opponents something else to think about, beginning with Vanderbilt, who will visit the Tigers at 5 p.m. Saturday in Auburn Arena.
Denson and Harrell are the team's runaway leaders in scoring -- and are the second most prolific scoring tandem in the nation. But another scorer has long been sought, and now welcomed, by coach Tony Barbee.
Barbee says "there is no secret" that every team will first try to stop Denson and Harrell while trying to make "the other people beat you."
"Knowing that, our guys are going to take that personally," Barbee said. "If you disrespect Tahj, he will make you pay, like he did at Florida. If you're going to give him wide open 3s, he's going to make the majority of them. We have to have other guys step up and do the same thing because they are saying the same thing about Allen Payne and Matt (Atewe) and Asauhn (Dixon-Tatum) and pretty much everyone on our team. Those guys have to say, 'I'm a Division I player for a reason' and be effective offensive players like I know they can be."
Auburn played No. 2 Florida to the wire Wednesday, falling behind for good with 20 seconds left in a 71-66 loss. The Tigers, now with five regular-season games remaining, fell to 12-12 overall and 4-9 in the Southeastern Conference. Vanderbilt is 14-11 overall and 6-7 in the league.
Denson has led Auburn in scoring 16 times. Harrell has led eight times. Shamsid-Deen now has one. After that one, Barbee praised Denson and Harrell for drawing the attention of the defense so Shamsid-Deen could score.
"He's a winner. He's a big-time winner," Barbee said.
Harrell welcomed the scoring help, saying the Tigers can also get scoring help from Allen Payne, Asauhn Dixon-Tatum "or even scoring off the bench."
"It helps a lot so defenses can't just be aware of me and CD, they have to be aware of everybody," Harrell says.
"They have both this year," Barbee said. "Their size is a little different than Florida and Kentucky's size. Their size is more skilled than rough-and-rugged guys that go swallow up offensive rebounds."
Charles Godlberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: