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Auburn's challenge? Midnight basketball at Colorado
Nov. 17, 2014

Auburn was ready for the season-opener, and now it's on to Colorado

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Can't sleep? Then Bruce Pearl has something for you. Tune in to watch his Auburn basketball team play on ESPN2 at midnight, Auburn time, this evening at Colorado to see if the Tigers can start the season with two straight wins.

Yeah, it's kind of crazy, this 24 Hours of Hoops on the ESPN networks.

"I'm sure when ESPN called a lot schools and said, 'Do you want to go to Colorado and play at one o’clock in the morning Eastern Time?' They didn’t get a lot of bite," Pearl said. "But the big picture, I want our basketball program part of ESPN’s marathon. I want our basketball program to eventually become a part of some of the better holiday tournaments. You have to start somewhere. And the fact that we get Colorado to come back is a real treat for our fans because they are such a good team."

Colorado is favored, but the Tigers are buoyed by the fact they beat Milwaukee in their season-opener Friday, rallying from a 12-point second-half deficit to win 83-73. Veteran KT Harrell led Auburn with 20 points and two newcomers chipped in with impressive stats of their own. Antoine Mason scored 19 and Cinmeon Bowers had a double-double with 18 points and 17 rebounds. But the victory came with a price, however. Guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen hurt his shoulder  it popped out and back in — and Mason suffered an ankle injury, though he played through it.

"We may be short-handed," Pearl said.

The Tigers weren't exactly a deep team, anyway, with nine available scholarship players before last week's win. Now, it's Colorado.

"Road trips do bring you together," Pearl said. "I love to travel with the team. Part of the college experience and being a student-athlete is seeing the country and even seeing the world. That Rocky Mountain high is going to be beautiful and it’s going to be snow-capped. For our kids to have that different experience, it’s part of the college experience."

This is what Auburn found when it landed Sunday: A Colorado team that returns all five starters, and 13 players overall, from a team that made the NCAA Tournament last season. Tournament experience? Colorado has it, having played in three straight NCAA tourneys. Auburn doesn't have a player who has been in one.

Still, the Tigers are ready, having gone through security and flown commercial to the game.

"We are going to try and win more and spend less," Pearl said. "There are times when it makes sense to fly commercial. We are not pressed for time going out because it’s a weekend for travel; we are pressed for time coming back because we are missing classes. We will travel out commercially and fly back privately. For us to be able to get the guys back early Tuesday morning to at least get them back in most of their classes."

Here are the facts and the notes on the game.

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



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