High-flying Auburn guard T.J. Dunans has been grounded by a knee injury
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl is running out of guards, an unfortunate happenstance with Southeastern Conference play starting Saturday.
Pearl said Thursday that T.J. Dunans will be out 3-to-5 weeks with a severely bruised knee and Tahj Shamsid-Deen will undergo an MRI that may lead to surgery. What's that mean? Auburn will be without two of its starters for Saturday's 1 p.m. game against Tennessee in Auburn Arena, will still start three guards, and wonder about the backups.
Walk-ons "Zach Allison and Pat Keim" will be the backup point guards, Pearl said, "unless you have another idea."
Auburn's starting lineup figures to be Kareem Canty, Bryce Brown and TJ Lang at guard, and Tyler Harris and Horace Spencer at forward. The Tigers are 6-5. Tennessee is 7-5.
Shamsid-Deen, who had surgery on both shoulders last season, has reinjured his left shoulder three times since preseason practice began. He's missed the last three games after hurting his shoulder Dec. 15 at Xavier. Dunans suffered his injury two games ago.
Pearl said Shamsid-Deen will have an MRI that "will tell us what kind of damage he's done as it will relate to whether or not he has to have surgery again immediately and he's out for the year; or whether or not it's still possible for him to strengthen, brace and try to play."
Pearl said Shamsid-Deen, the point guard and Auburn's best defender, has tried to play through his shoulder problems.
"I think the fear is, 'What can I do and what can't I do? He's trying to be out there even on a limited role, because Tahj with two feet, one good arm and his head can help us," Pearl said. "But he went up for a layup against Xavier and it got spun out and then came down and he wasn't able to support himself.
"Anatomically, he's predisposed to those dislocations. And with strength and the brace, will it be enough to hold it in there? I don't know. But I'm sure it is pretty taxing on him mentally."
Dunans suffered his injury with one second left in the first half against Harvard.
"He has a severely bruised knee. We believe that his patella dislocated and caused a lot of bruising, a tremendous amount of swelling," Pearl said. "The good news is the MRIs have shown that his ACL and MCL are intact, so it does not look like anything needs surgery, but it’s pretty banged up. Obviously, the trip back from Hawaii was difficult, so he's working hard rehab-wise."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine