By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Five games over an 11-day stretch doesn't give Bruce Pearl much time to tinker with his lineup, but tinker he must before the next stop in his December schedule.
Auburn's basketball coach announced Wednesday that starters Bryce Brown and Horace Spencer have been suspended for Thursday's home game against Coastal Carolina following their arrest for misdemeanor possession, saying "we're disappointed" and "they are embarrassed."
The Tigers will try to rebound from Monday's last-second loss to Boston College in New York in Thursday's 8 p.m. game against the Chanticleers, who are coached by former Auburn coach Cliff Ellis, the Tigers' second winningest basketball coach.
Brown and Spencer are out for the rematch, but Auburn expects to have guards T.J. Dunans and TJ Lang back. Dunans missed Monday's game because he was ill. Lang left Monday's game after hurting a knee.
"Dunans is our best rebounding guard. He's also probably my best play-making guard, so getting him back is significant," Pearl said.
Spencer was last seen getting six of Auburn's 11 blocks against Boston College. But while the Tigers stood tall there, they were outrebounded by 17. Pearl said Auburn is limited there to begin with, and now Spencer's 4.8 rebounds per game are out Thursday. There's not much time to work on that, not in the midst of the 11-day run through Boston College, Coastal Carolina, Mercer, Oklahoma and UConn.
"We've got games," Pearl said. "We've just got to get prepared for games, so we won't be able to get a whole lot accomplished in practice to sort of fix what's ailing us."
And, "I think there is a lot to respond to this week. We're just going to have to see how it goes."
Still, Auburn is 6-2 overall. Coastal Carolina is 5-6 heading into the game that will be televised by the SEC Network.
Pearl said he knows what to expect from Ellis, who is 1-1 against him the last two years.
"Coaches like Cliff are going to do what they do," Pearl said. "From a pure standpoint of what they do, particularly offensively, Cliff is really good. They're getting better from how they started. They'll be similar with what they did in the past."
Pearl said he's not sure when Brown and Spencer will return.
"I've talked to both of the young men and I've talked to their families," Pearl said. "They understand that they're role models and they understand that they've let their Auburn family down, they've let their own families down. They feel really badly about it."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine