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Auburn basketball prepares to juggle the lineup again
Feb. 23, 2016

The  return of T.J. Dunans helps Bruce Pearl fill out his lineup card
The return of T.J. Dunans helps Bruce Pearl fill out his lineup card

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. ― You can't tell an Auburn basketball player without his health insurance card this season, and so it is that coach Bruce Pearl enters yet another game not exactly sure who's available and who’s not.

The player in question against Georgia on Wednesday night is leading scorer Tyler Harris, who left Saturday's game with a concussion. Pearl said Monday that Harris is doubtful. But the news was better for T.J. Dunans, who returned Saturday after missing 15 games from a knee injury and is available again against Georgia.

"I think the biggest thing is he showed no swelling and his knee felt really good, so from that standpoint, that's a really good sign," Pearl said.

"I'd say that over the next couple of weeks I think he should be back to full strength. I think he should be back to playing as well as he played before he left."

Auburn needs all the players it can get in the 6 p.m. game after playing most of the year without Dunans and the injured Tahj Shamsid-Deen and, most recently, the departed Kareem Canty.

But just as Dunans returned, Harris suffered a concussion.

"He's made progress. It certainly could be, based on the hit that he took, it could be worse, but you just don't know how quickly he is going to be able to pass all the (concussion) protocols," Pearl said.

Georgia beat Auburn 65-55 on Feb. 6 when the Tigers played for the first time without Canty, then the leading scorer. Now, Auburn is 10-16 overall and 4-10 in the Southeastern Conference. Georgia is 14-11 overall and 7-7 in the league. The game will be televised by the SEC Network.

Pearl has had to change his lineups and strategy on the fly this season. Cinmeon Bowers started as a power forward, became a point guard, and now is shifting back to a more powerful position with the return of Dunans.

Through it all, Bowers has kept piling up double-doubles. He has three straight and 12 for the season.

Freshman forward Horace Spencer has been rounding into a more impactful player as well. He has 12 blocks in his last two games.

"I would imagine Cim will play both inside and out, and without Tyler, it'll mean Horace has got to try to be on the floor longer," Pearl said. "I think Horace Spencer is playing better. We're excited about how he is practicing and just his presence on the floor, a stronger offensive presence, a much stronger presence blocking shots and rebounding and utilizing his athleticism. I think he's been pretty good the last three or four games, maybe not every one of them, but his confidence is picking up as a freshman would having played throughout the season."

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


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