By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn boasts a 2-0 record for just the second time in the last 10 years, and coach Bruce Pearl is crediting that good start to a team that has welcomed three freshman starters.
Redshirt freshman Danjel Purifoy and true freshmen Jared Harper and Mustapha Herron have jumped into the mix in a big way, with Purifoy and Harper leading in scoring and Herron leading in rebounds in the very early going.
Throw in Anfernee McLemore and you've got young players willing to work.
"When you're trying to change the culture, it starts with that work ethic and that discipline and training to be a pro," Pearl said. "Jared, Mustapha and Anfernee, being three of our five hardest workers all summer and all preseason" is part of "the cultural change that you're looking for."
Pearl will be looking for more progress in Thursday's 8 p.m. game against Eastern Kentucky in Auburn Arena in a game that will be televised by the SEC Network.
Pearl said the new players — three true freshmen, a redshirt freshmen and two graduate transfers — have worked well with his veterans.
"They're all such great kids also, it's been a little bit easier for those guys to have blended in and for the rest of the team to recognize and understand their ability, their work ethic and not be hating on them so much," Pearl said. "This gives our chemistry a chance."
Auburn is averaging a healthy 83 points a game in wins over North Florida and Georgia State. But Pearl talked about his defense Wednesday, which is allowing 65½ points a game.
"I'd say that we're farther ahead defensively at this time of the year than my first two years," Pearl said. "Take Danjel and Anfernee, freshmen. There's a defensive game plan, and it's fairly complex, then there's a game plan as far as pressure is concerned, then there's an offensive game plan. It's a lot, and particularly at certain positions."
Auburn will head to Cancun, Mexico for its next games: Against Texas Tech on Nov. 22 and against either Purdue or Utah State on Nov. 23 in the Cancun Classic.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine