NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12:  Horace Spencer #0 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)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Auburn forward Horace Spencer out for season with shoulder surgery

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Auburn sophomore forward Horace Spencer will miss the rest of the season with shoulder surgery on his left shoulder, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-8 Spencer is averaging 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game during his sophomore season with the Tigers as he’s one of the team’s best rim protectors.

Spencer’s surgery will be performed on Thursday.

“Horace, he’s one of our toughest players, and he’s a fighter, and he’s not afraid, and he’s a really good teammate,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said in the release. “Horace has got a little bit of mother hen, and he’s got a little bit of big brother in him. He’s our team protector.”

Pearl noted in the release that Spencer was out for four months after last season after knee surgery, so he’s had a hard time staying healthy during his first two years at Auburn. On the bright side, Spencer being out for four months means that he’ll get most of this summer to improve before his junior season.

Monk fuels No. 6 Kentucky past Auburn

LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 14: Malik Monk #5 of the Kentucky Wildcats drives to the basket against T.J. Dunans #4 of the Auburn Tigers in the first half of the game at Rupp Arena on January 14, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Kentucky used a second-half surge to pull away from Auburn as the No. 6 Wildcats ran away with a 92-72 SEC home win on Saturday afternoon.

The Wildcats (15-2, 5-0) were only up, 70-64, with a little over eight minutes but used a 22-8 run to close out the game as the team’s offense once again showed why they are among the best in the country. Freshman guard Malik Monk led Kentucky with 24 points on the night as the Wildcats shot a red-hot 57 percent (11-for-19) from three-point range.

Bam Adebayo added 15 points and eight rebounds for Kentucky while De’Aaron Fox (13 points), Mychal Mulder (12 points) and Isaiah Briscoe (10 points) also finished in double-figures.

Auburn (11-6, 1-4) was led by T.J. Dunans’ 23 points while freshman Mustapha Heron had 11 points.

If Kentucky shoots 57 percent from three-point range they are going to be nearly impossible to stop — and it wasn’t just Monk was going bananas and hitting all the deep jumpers. Monk hit four three-pointers and kept up his normal pace but inconsistent shooters like Briscoe went 2-for-2 while Wenyen Gabriel (six points, 16 rebounds) was 2-for-3 from distance as well.

Auburn was able to stay in the game for longer because of some woeful free-throw shooting from Kentucky. The Wildcats’ were only 17-for-32 (52 percent) from the free-throw line — well below their season average of 69 percent — but that might only be a one-game issue and not a long-term problem.

 

Auburn keeps momentum going by landing five-star Class of 2018 forward

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When Bruce Pearl took the job at Auburn, it was assumed that he could recruit top-100 caliber players to the struggling program, but Pearl’s recruiting is exceeding those expectations.

On Thursday night, the Tigers landed another huge commitment as five-star Class of 2018 power forward E.J. Montgomery pledged to Auburn on Twitter. The commitment of Montgomery represents the third consecutive recruiting class in which Pearl is bringing a five-star prospect into the fold.

Montgomery’s sister, Brandy Montgomery, plays for the Auburn women’s basketball team, so the Tigers were able to capitalize on the connection.

The 6-foot-9 Montgomery emerged on the national scene as an eighth grader as he was a rare rising freshman who was productive playing up on the 17U level in the adidas Gauntlet. Regarded as the No. 9 overall prospect in the national class, according to Rivals, Montgomery’s commitment is a great start for Auburn in the Class of 2018.

An athletic big man with a lot of upside, Montgomery has a chance to be a double-double threat on a nightly basis if he plays up to his potential.

Auburn lands third transfer within the last week

Auburn guard T.J. Dunans (4) and coach Bruce Pearl celebrate a 75-74 win over UAB in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.  (Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP)
Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP
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After receiving commitments from former Purdue/Houston guard Ronnie Johnson and former Presbyterian forward DeSean Murray, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl continued to load up on the transfer market Monday. Forward LaRon Smith, who was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year at Bethune-Cookman last season, announced that he will use his final season of eligibility at the SEC program.

Like Smith, Johnson will also be eligible to compete immediately for the Tigers while Murray will have to sit out next season before having two years of eligibility remaining.

The 6-foot-8 Smith played two seasons at Georgia State before transferring to Bethune-Cookman, where he averaged 7.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per contest in 2015-16. Smith played just over 25 minutes per game for the Wildcats, shooting 58.5 percent from the field.

Smith reached double figures in scoring in four of the Wildcats’ final seven games, including a 20-point, 11-rebound, three-block outing in an overtime win over North Carolina A&T. He joins a front court in need of depth following the departures of the likes of Cinmeon Bowers and Tyler Harris, with Horace Spencer, Trayvon Reed and incoming freshman Anfernee McLemore also competing for minutes in 2016-17.

No. 20 Texas A&M races to 81-63 win over Auburn

Auburn forward Horace Spencer (0) dunks the ball on Texas A&M guard Jalen Jones (12) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday March 1, 2016, in Auburn, Ala.
(AP Photo/Matthew Bishop)
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AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Danuel House scored 19 points and No. 20 Texas A&M rolled off 20 straight in a come-from-behind 81-63 victory over Auburn on Tuesday night.

The Aggies (23-7, 12-5 Southeastern Conference) remain tied with Kentucky for the league lead going into the regular season finale Saturday night against Vanderbilt. Texas A&M is seeking its first regular-season title since sharing the Southwest Conference championship with Texas and TCU in 1985-86 and would win the tiebreaker after beating the Wildcats on Feb. 20.

The Aggies trailed the Tigers (11-18, 5-12) by as many as 11 points in the first half before racing back, overcoming icy shooting by gobbling up rebounds. They took charge with a 26-3 onslaught fueled partly by a series of dunks carrying into the second half.

Jalen Jones had 16 points and eight rebounds while Tyler Davis scored 14 and had nine rebounds for the Aggies. Alex Caruso had only five points but padded the stat sheet with nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Admon Gilder scored 10 points.

Texas A&M outrebounded Auburn 51-27 and grabbed 21 offensive boards.

Tyler Harris led Auburn with 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots. TJ Lang had 10 points for the Tigers.

The Aggies trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half after missing 12 consecutive shots during a scoring drought of more than 6 minutes. They scored the final eight points before the half and the initial 12 afterward.

Anthony Collins set up two straight dunks with passes and hit a jump shot to fuel the end-of-half run that tied it at 33-33. It only took a few more minutes after that to turn it into a double-digit game the other way.

DOMINATING BOARDS

The Aggies had 17 offensive rebounds by halftime, when Auburn had only 12 altogether. Cinmeon Bowers came in averaging 10 boards but only got half that.

SHOOTING 3s

Texas A&M missed all 10 3-point attempts in the first half but made half of its 10 attempts after coming out of the locker room. The Tigers started 6 of 15.

TIP-INS

Texas A&M: Finishes 5-4 in SEC road games. Made 24 of 26 free throws (92 percent).

Auburn: It was the final home game for Auburn seniors Bowers, Jordon Granger and Harris. Bowers was held to four points.

UP NEXT

Texas A&M hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday night.

Auburn visits Mississippi State on Saturday night.

Auburn junior guard Kareem Canty to turn pro

Auburn guard Kareem Canty (1) screams in pain after being fouled during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70.  (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
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Auburn junior point guard Kareem Canty, the team’s leader in both points and assists, has missed the Tigers’ last two games as a result of a suspension handed down by head coach Bruce Pearl for a violation of team rules. Thursday night Canty announced via Twitter that he will be turning pro, ending his Auburn career with less than one full season of play.

In 21 games this season Canty averaged 18.3 points and 5.3 assists per contest, shooting 40.1 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from three. Given Auburn’s lack of perimeter depth Canty had ample opportunities to score from the point guard position, but he struggled in the four games following standout performances in wins over Kentucky and Alabama.

Auburn’s lost six straight since beating the Crimson Tide, most recently falling 71-45 at Tennessee Tuesday night. Without Canty, Bruce Pearl called upon TJ Lang and Bryce Brown as the perimeter starters in that game with Patrick Keim and New Williams playing a combined 33 minutes off the bench. They’ll continue to see those minutes moving forward.

As for next season, Auburn brings in four-star point guard Jared Harper and currently injured point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen will be available as well.

Canty began his college career at Marshall, playing the 2013-14 season for the Thundering Herd before deciding to transfer. Canty committed to Auburn in mid-April of 2014, only to change his mind in favor of USF before making the switch back to Auburn.

Canty’s name wasn’t showing up in early draft projections, and making this decision while in the midst of a suspension likely won’t help matters when it comes to getting selected.