New Williams was feeling pretty good while scoring 16 points in Auburn's exhibition opener last week
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Bruce Pearl's final tune-up for Auburn's basketball season will come Thursday night in an exhibition game against one of his former players who did him and Tennessee in five seasons ago.
"I told my team then, and I told my team now, 'These guys are good enough to beat us,'" Pearl said Wednesday as the Tigers prepared to meet Division II Indianapolis at 6 p.m. in Auburn Arena.
It's a classic teacher versus pupil matchup pitting Pearl against Stan Gouard, a two-time Division II player of the year who Pearl coached at Southern Indiana back in the day. Sure enough, Gouard beat Tennessee 79-64 in 2010.
After Pearl and Gouard exchange pleasantries this time, Auburn will see where it stands, first against the No. 8 team in the coaches preseason Division II poll, and how its sits heading to its regular-season opener against UAB on Nov. 13.
Pearl may have a better feel if guards Bryce Brown and TJ Lang play. Brown missed Auburn's first exhibition game because of a sore back. Lang was out because of a sore knee. Both have practiced this week.
"I think my plan is if both TJ Lang and Bryce are good to go, I will play them each in a half. So the half that TJ plays in, I won' play Bryce, and the half that Bryce plays in I won't play TJ, so I can get a backup rotation for those guys."
Auburn beat Brevard College 99-59 last Friday in an exhibition game when New Williams and Zach Allison got bonus playing time because of the injuries to Brown and Lang. Williams and Allison took advantage, combining to score 22 points and adding 10 assists. Pearl said Indianapolis, with a roster filled with Division I transfers, will provide a tougher test.
"The results will tell me a lot about our team as far as UAB is concerned," Pearl said.
Pearl said he was pleased with the first exhibition game because "I thought we were very unselfish."
"I thought our conditioning needed to pick up, and that is my responsibility. I don't believe in being in great shape in November because to get in great shape you have to beat the dog out of them and that doesn't let you get through February and March when you are playing your best basketball. So we are starting to pick up our conditioning a little bit now."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine