Auburn Tigers

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: Head coach Bruce Pearl of the Auburn Tigers reacts against the Boston College Eagles in the second half of the Under Armour Reunion at Madison Square Garden on December 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Report: Bruce Pearl not cooperating with Auburn’s internal investigation

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Beginning the season with hopes of earning an NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 2003, things have not gone as planned for the Auburn Tigers during the preseason. The Auburn program was hit hard by the ongoing FBI investigation, with assistant coach Chuck Person being arrested in late September and indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday.

Add in the fact that two players, Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley, are being held out of competition as the school looks into their eligibility in connection to the FBI case, and things have not gone smoothly for head coach Bruce Pearl.

However according to a report by ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, Pearl has apparently not done all that he can to help the school conduct its own investigation. Per the report Pearl has not cooperated with Auburn’s efforts to conduct an internal investigation of the basketball program, with school officials informing Pearl that he’s placing his employment in jeopardy as a result.

To have this kind of turmoil just days before the start of the season is suboptimal to say the least.

Auburn opens its season Friday night against Norfolk State. No determination has been made regarding the statuses of Wiley, who suffered a stress fracture while playing for the United States U-19 team this summer, and Purifoy for that game. With those two sitting out, Auburn dropped an exhibition to Division II Barry University last week.

VIDEO: Mizzou beats Auburn with OT buzzer beater

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The Kim Anderson era lives on.

Missouri extended its season and its coach’s tenure Wednesday by beating Auburn, 86-83, on an overtime buzzer-beater from Kevin Puryear.

The shot keeps Anderson at the helm of Mizzou for at least one more game. He was “asked to resign” once this season, his third with the program, concludes. The Tigers are 27-67 during his tenure.

Barry scores 30, No. 15 Florida races past Auburn 114-95

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AUBURN, Ala. (AP) With defensive stops hard to come by, Canyon Barry and the Florida Gators simply scored more than they had all season.

Barry scored a season-high 30 points and the 15th-ranked Gators kept up with high-scoring Auburn for a half, then sprinted away to a 114-95 victory Tuesday night.

Known more for their stingy defense, the Gators (21-5, 11-2 Southeastern Conference) blew past their previous scoring high of 106 points en route to a seventh straight win. They dominated after going into halftime locked in a 50-50 tie, coming out of the locker room on a 13-3 run and never looking back despite losing center John Egbunu to a knee injury early.

“It was an odd game to me,” Florida coach Mike White said. “Outside of early second half we never could find a defensive rhythm. They were fantastic offensively. They’re just very difficult to defend. Good thing for us it was one of those nights where we made a bunch of shots. We made a bunch of shots, we made a bunch of free throws.

“Our guys found a way. Obviously a different way than we won any game last year.”

Florida shot 56 percent from the field and made 11 of 19 3-point attempts and 37 of 42 free throws.

Auburn (16-10, 5-8) became the first team to reach its season average in regulation against the Gators, but couldn’t slow them down on the other end.

The game was so dominated by offense that 13 players scored in double figures. It was also easily the most points allowed by a Florida team that came in giving up 65.2 points per game.

“I don’t think our defense was very good,” Barry said. “They weren’t locked in on scouting reports. The first play of the game, we give up a 3-pointer to one of their best shooters (Purifoy).”

Anfernee McLemore led Auburn with a career-high 19 points, T.J. Dunans had 13 and Ronnie Johnson 12.

KeVaughn Allen scored all 17 of his points in the second half for Florida, which had seven players reach 10 points. Devin Robinson added 14. Kasey Hill had 11 points and 12 assists.

Egbunu had 10 points before leaving with a left knee injury midway through the first half. He didn’t return, and White said he didn’t know the nature of the injury. Egbunu is scheduled to have an MRI on Wednesday.

“He was having a heck of a game, too, before he got hurt,” White said.

Barry – who had his made free throw streak end at 42 – made 3 of 5 3-pointers and 11 of 12 foul shots.

“Florida’s a great team,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “They’re engaged on both ends of the floor. We got a real treat in seeing Barry play. He’s just a terrific player.”

It’s the first time in nearly two years Auburn has allowed 100 points, the last time against Kentucky on Feb. 21, 2015.

BIG PICTURE

Florida has matched the longest win streak in White’s two seasons. The Gators have won 10 straight meetings, including nine in a row at Auburn.

Auburn hosted Florida for the first time since 2014, with the three meetings since coming in Gainesville. The Tigers allowed 60-plus second-half points for the third straight game. The Tigers started 5 of 6 from 3-point range and made 1 of 15 from there.

STREAK ENDS

Barry’s school-record streak of made free throws ended at 42. Barry, who shoots underhanded like his Hall of Fame father Rick, missed the second of two attempts with 15:20 left in the first half. He still had 13 points in the first 8 minutes.

“You’re going to miss eventually,” Barry said. “Obviously I’d like to make all of them but in basketball and life, you’re not going to.”

UP NEXT

Florida visits Mississippi State on Saturday to continue a stretch with three of four games on the road.

Auburn travels to Texas A&M on Saturday then goes to LSU three days later.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.

Five-star recruit enrolls at Auburn, is immediately eligible

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Bruce Pearl won’t be waiting until next season for his top 2017 recruit to make an impact.

Austin Wiley, a top-20 prospect in his class, has enrolled at Auburn and will be immediately eligible, the school announced Friday.

“I am extremely excited to announce that Austin Wiley has been deemed a qualifier by the NCAA and has been admitted and enrolled in Auburn University,” Pearl said in a statement. “He will compete for Auburn starting against Mercer on Sunday. We look forward to having Austin be a part of and play for the Auburn Tigers just as his parents did.”

Wiley, a 6-foot-11, 255-pound forward, is the son of a pair of former Auburn basketball players. His mother was an All-American and his father led the SEC in rebounding in 1994.

It feels great. I feel really blessed right now,” Wiley said in a statement. “My hard work and dedication has paid off. Thanks to my parents and the coaches. I feel great. I grew up around here listening to stories my mom and dad would tell me about the Auburn family. This is a blessing, and it seems like everything works out for the best. It feels like destiny.”

The Tigers are currently 9-2, and, following Sunday’s game against Mercer, have contests against Oklahoma and Connecticut before starting conference play.

Two Auburn players suspended

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Two Auburn players have been suspended by coach Bruce Pearl following arrests Wednesday.

Bryce Brown and Horace Spencer were both charged with marijuana possession, according to WTVM-TV.

The Tigers play Coastal Carolina on Thursday.

We’re disappointed,” Pearl said. “They’re embarrassed. These are really good kids that have done a lot of really good things and they made a mistake and they are going to pay a price for that mistake.”

The suspensions are currently indefinite, Pearl said.

Brown is the team’s fourth-leading scorer at 6.9 points per game while Spencer is averaging 5.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest.

“They understand they are role models,” Pearl said. “They’ve let their Auburn family down, they’ve let their own families down, their team down and they feel really badly about it.”

Following Coastal Carolina, Auburn plays Mercer, Oklahoma and Connecticut before opening SEC play at home against Georgia on Dec. 29.

Pregame Shootaround: The season is finally here!

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GAME OF THE DAY: Pittsburgh vs. No. 9 Gonzaga, 10:00 p.m. (ESPN)

The Panthers and Bulldogs made the long trek to Okinawa for their season opener, and it should be an interesting game between the two. Pittsburgh is looking to return to the NCAA tournament after narrowly missing out last season, with point guard James Robinson and forwards Jamel Artis and Michael Young leading the way. As for Gonzaga, Mark Few has one of the top front courts in the country at his disposal featuring Kyle Wiltjer, Przemek Karnowski and Domas Sabonis (who took a hard fall in their exhibition last weekend). The question for Gonzaga: how well will a backcourt hit hard by departures perform? We’ll get your first piece of evidence Friday night.

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 1 North Carolina vs. Temple, 7:00 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

The Tar Heels enter the season as one of the favorites to win the national title, and they’ll be without their best player for the next couple weeks. Marcus Paige is out with a broken bone in his non-shooting hand, which means other perimeter options will be needed to step forward as distributors and perimeter shooters. Joel Berry II, Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson are three of the perimeter players to keep an eye on for the Tar Heels, who face a Temple squad that has to account for the graduation of point guard Will Cummings. The Owls are hoping to reach the NCAA tournament after missing out in each of the last two seasons, and a good showing in Annapolis could help Jaylen Bond and company in that quest.

WHO’S ON UPSET ALERT: Auburn -2 (vs. UAB, 9:30 p.m. SEC Network)

While there’s heightened optimism on The Plains thanks to the arrival of a talented recruiting class, and rightfully so, this is a dangerous opener to Bruce Pearl’s second season at Auburn. UAB returns all five starters from a team that won the Conference USA tournament title and upset Iowa State in the NCAA tournament, including forward William Lee and guard Robert Brown. The question for UAB is how they’ll match up with Auburn’s rugged power forward Cinmeon Bowers, who averaged 12.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game as a junior. Look for this to be one of the better games of the day.

SIX THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. Shaka Smart makes his debut as head coach at Texas and he’ll do so in Shanghai, with the Longhorns taking on a very young Washington team. Led by guard Isaiah Taylor, Texas returns four starters and added a talented recruiting class that includes Tevin Mack and Kerwin Roach.

2. There’s a lot of optimism in Milwaukee as Marquette’s talented freshman class led by Henry Ellenson opens up regular season play. However, they better be careful with a Belmont team that has plenty of experience and is the preseason pick to win the OVC. Senior guard Craig Bradshaw leads the way for Rick Byrd’s Bruins, who are tough to slow down on the offensive end of the floor.

3. The Mountain West will be involved in some intriguing opening night match-ups Friday night. Preseason favorite San Diego State hosts a dangerous Illinois State team, with another contender in Boise State visiting one of the preseason favorites in the Big Sky in Montana. And then there’s the battle of possible league dark horses, as Fresno State hosts an experienced Pepperdine squad.

4. Steve Prohm leads No. 7 Iowa State up against Colorado in Sioux Falls in his first regular season game as head coach. The Cyclones are expected to be contenders both in the Big 12 and nationally thanks to the return of players such as Georges Niang and Monté Morris. They’ll face a Colorado team that has a lot of questions to answer, but they’re anchored by one of the better post players around in senior Josh Scott.

5. Defending national champion No. 5 Duke opens its regular season with a home game against Siena. Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils added a highly regarded freshman class to some solid returnees, including sophomore guard Grayson Allen who’s expected by many to break out this season.

6. No. 22 Baylor has a difficult season opener to deal with, as they’ll host Stephen F. Austin in Waco. Brad Underwood’s Lumberjacks have reached the NCAA tournament in each of the last two seasons, and this experienced group led by senior forward Thomas Walkup will not back down from this challenge. Baylor boasts one of the nation’s best front courts led by seniors Rico Gathers Sr. and Taurean Waller-Prince.

TOP 25 SCHEDULE

  • Colorado vs. No. 7 Iowa State, 5:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • Pittsburgh vs. No. 9 Gonzaga, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN)
  • North Carolina A&T at No. 23 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.
  • Albany at No. 2 Kentucky, 7:00 p.m. (SEC Network)
  • No. 1 North Carolina vs. Temple, 7:00 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
  • Siena at No. 5 Duke, 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • Mount St. Mary’s at No. 3 Maryland, 7:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
  • Morgan State at No. 6 Virginia, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Northern Michigan at No. 25 Michigan, 7:00 p.m.
  • Eastern Illinois at No. 15 Indiana, 7:00 p.m.
  • Florida Atlantic at No. 13 Michigan State, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Fairleigh Dickinson at No. 11 Villanova, 7:00 p.m.
  • Maine at No. 20 Connecticut, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Saint Francis (PA) at No. 19 Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Northern Colorado at No. 4 Kansas, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Charleston Southern at No. 10 Wichita State, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Austin Peay at No. 18 Vanderbilt, 8:00 p.m. (SEC Network)
  • McNeese State at No. 21 LSU, 9:00 p.m. (SEC Network)
  • Western Illinois at No. 17 Wisconsin, 9:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
  • Pacific at No. 12 Arizona, 9:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
  • Stephen F. Austin at No. 22 Baylor, 9:30 p.m.
  • Southern Utah at No. 16 Utah, 10:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
  • Rice at No. 14 California, 11:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)