Auburn Basketball Suspends Ward, Denson Indefinitely; Payne out for Season
As of Tuesday afternoon, Auburn may be without three of its primary basketball players for the remainder of the season.
Following the indefinite suspensions of guards Varez Ward and Chris Denson prior to Saturday's game against Arkansas, forward Allen Payne underwent a successful surgery Tuesday afternoon, but said via Twitter he will miss the remainder of the season.
Payne, who had been starting for injured forward Josh Langford the past eight games, played a huge role in Auburn's game Saturday against Arkansas. The sophomore scored 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds in 29 minutes of play.
After the Arkansas loss, Barbee simply said Ward and Denson, who were not at the game, violated team rules, without clarifying what those violations included. He also said they will not return until he sees fit.
Ward, who transferred from Texas and sat out last season, is averaging 9.0 points, 3.8 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game at point guard. He has also started a majority of the season.
Denson is averaging 8.5 points per game, playing in every game this year.
The suspensions are Auburn's second of the season, with guard Tony Neysmith and Langford missing games at the beginning of the season for similar violations.
The suspensions take away a substantial amount of depth for the Tigers.
Neysmith will now get more playing time backing up point guard Josh Wallace.
Denson's suspension will cause guard Frankie Sullivan to play extended minutes.
With two games left in the season, the chances of Auburn (14-14, 4-10 SEC) topping last season's SEC record is slightly diminished, but not completely ruined, but the road is certainly going to be a fierce one.
The Tigers travel to Tuscaloosa Wednesday to face Alabama (19-9, 8-6 SEC). Barbee said he will decide prior to the trip Tuesday if Ward and Denson will return for the game.
The game will be featured on ESPN3 with tip-off set for 7 p.m. (CST). Auburn hosts LSU (17-11, 7-7 SEC) Saturday at 1 p.m. (CST) in its final regular season game of the year.
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