Kareem Canty is giving Auburn an emotional lift in the early going
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Kareem Canty didn't play a second for Auburn last year. He couldn't after transferring in from Marshall.
But, if early results this season mean anything, he's making up for lost time.
He's averaging 22 points a game and has hit half his 3-point shots in Auburn's first two games. He'll take those stats into Friday's 8:30 p.m. game against Georgia Southern in Auburn Arena.
Canty says the change of seasons, from not playing last year because of the NCAA transfer rule to starting for the Tigers from the first whistle this year, has been refreshing.
"It feels great," he said. "This time last year I was sitting on the bench, working out before the games, and nobody knew who I was. People still kind of don't, but just to be out there playing and having fun is the best part."
Oh, people know who Canty is, said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl.
"He's going to be the focal point of a lot of scouting reports," Pearl said.
Auburn and Georgia Southern are both 1-1. The Tigers beat UAB, but lost to Colorado. Georgia Southern beat Webber International, then lost to Ole Miss by 10. The visiting Eagles feature 11 players who are either freshmen, redshirt freshmen or sophomores. They have the highest percentage of underclassmen on a roster of the 345 Division I teams.
SEC Network Plus will televise the game, then be back Saturday to televise the Auburn-Idaho football game at 3 p.m.
Canty got everybody's attention when he hit his first seven shots in Tuesday's 91-84 loss to Colorado.
"I think Kareem has been really good," Pearl said. "He obviously got in going in the first half against Colorado. He's terrific off the bounce and he can really shoot it and extend the defense.
"I think the thing about Kareem is you saw him score, but he also had seven assists and two turnovers. And he did a pretty good job with his on-the-ball defense."
Canty says he wants to get more of his teammates involved, and especially wants to get Cinmeon Bowers more involved. He scored five against Colorado.
"He's our double-double machine. He's our energy guy. Emotional," Canty said. "Without him, we're going to struggle. We need to get him going. We really need his production. We count on him."
And then there's tough Tahj Shamsid-Deen, the guard who departed last season following surgery on both of his shoulders only to reinjure one of them before this season began.
He missed one game.
"Tahj is like my little brother, so to see him play through two surgeries in his shoulders, and then get hurt before the exhibition game, and then go back to rehab and treatment like nothing happened to him" is impressive, Canty said. "I told him after he got hurt, 'I'm going to play for you until you back and we're going to ride this out together."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine