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KT Harrell, Auburn ready for Friday's basketball exhibition
Nov. 6, 2014

Here comes KT Harrell and Auburn for their exhibition game Friday night

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Guard KT Harrell knew Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl had back surgery Tuesday, but when he showed up at practice Wednesday, well...

"He's crazy. But that's how passionate he is about the game. We appreciated it," Harrell said. "He's a workaholic for his team. He wants us to be the best players we can be and he wants to be the coach he can be."

Auburn will take another step toward that end in an exhibition game against West Alabama at 8:30 Friday night in Auburn Arena. Standing-room-only tickets are available. The Auburn volleyball team will begin the night in the arena at 6 in a match against Arkansas. Next day: Auburn versus Texas A&M football across the street in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Pearl has brought the kind of enthusiasm that can sell out an exhibition game.

The Tigers return five scholarship players and have brought in freshmen and transfers to bolster the roster. Two of the most intriguing players are Harrell, the SEC's leading returning scorer; and Antoine Mason, the nation's leading returner scorer who transferred from Niagara. They combined to average 43.9 points per game last season.

Friday's game won't count, but it'll be a test for a starting lineup of Harrell, Mason, Jordon Granger, Tahj Shamsid-Deen and newcomer Cinmeon Bowers. Auburn returns 46 percent of its scoring, though the Tigers figure to miss the team-best 19.1 point per game of Chris Denson, who graduated to pro basketball in Europe; and the steady play of Allen Payne. Some more facts here.

Auburn tested its new playing combination in a closed-door scrimmage last weekend. Harrell says he's just ready to play games.

"We've been practicing really hard. We're just excited to start playing. It's been a long preseason," he said.

Auburn's scrimmage was uneven, but "we did a lot of good things, and we saw there are things we need to work on. All in all, it was a good team trip," Harrell said.

If nothing else, Harrell said, it allowed Auburn to continue to build "chemistry and continuity."

"I think that's going to be a big part of us being successful because we have a lot of new guys and a new coaching staff," Harrell said.

Auburn opens the regular season Nov. 14 against Wisconsin-Milwaukee at 9 p.m. in Auburn Arena.

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter



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