After starting the season 15-0, the Tigers suffered two consecutive surprise losses to SEC opposition on the road. While the Tigers fell 12 spots in the AP poll, questions began to rise over the formidability of the offense.
The Tigers got an important confidence boost with a 13-point win at home against South Carolina due to a career performance from Devan Cambridge. The freshman scored 26 points off the bench to bring a much needed spark back into the Tiger offense.
Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl spoke on the lack of bench minutes this season, which are the lowest, in terms of percentage, in his tenure at Auburn.
“The people they are replacing are Samir Doughty and Isaac Okoro. Samir and Isaac are two of the best defensive guards in our league, and maybe in the country,” Pearl said. “If those guys [Cambridge, Flanagan, Johnson] can come off the bench, be better defensively, and make shots, they will play more.”
When asked if Cambridge’s performance against South Carolina would affect his status in the team, Pearl laid out his philosophy on team selection.
“I don’t anticipate there being a huge change. I believe playing time and roles are earned over a long period of time,” Pearl said. “I don’t like when either my starters or the guys who don’t know when they’re playing feel like they have to play well to play. I want to judge them over a long period of time. However, if someone is hot, you feed the hot hand, and if someone starts playing better, you start playing a little bit more.”
The head coach did still have high praise for Cambridge, stating that be believes Cambridge will be one of Auburn’s best players in a few years.
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The Tigers will represent the SEC in the BIG 12/SEC Challenge and will look to keep their winning momentum when they host Iowa State on Saturday in Auburn Arena. Tip-off is set for 11 a.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.
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