AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Auburn guard Antoine Mason could miss the Tigers’ final two regular-season games after the death of his father, former New York Knicks forward Anthony Mason.
Tigers coach Bruce Pearl said Monday that he doesn’t believe there’s any chance Mason will play Tuesday night at Missouri, and he could miss Saturday’s finale against Georgia with the funeral not expected before late in the week.
Anthony Mason passed away Saturday morning at age 48 after recent heart problems. Antoine Mason had flown to New York two days earlier to be with him, the last of several trips home during the season because of his father’s health problems.
”It’s just hard,” Pearl said. ”The biggest thing is it hurts. That’s just it. Going through it every day. We talk to him every day, text him every day. There’s a big void, a huge void in his life. It’s a test of his faith.”
Antoine Mason is a graduate transfer who was the nation’s No. 2 scorer last season for Niagara, scoring 25.6 points a game. He’s second on the team in scoring this season, averaging 15.1 points for the Tigers.
Antoine Mason, who scored 29 points at No. 1 Kentucky, wears his father’s No. 14 for Auburn. He would be among the players honored on Senior Day against the Bulldogs.
Anthony Mason was a regular presence at Auburn Arena earlier in the season, offering counsel and encouragement to both his son and other players.
”It’s very difficult, because Anthony was very present around practices and games,” Pearl said. ”He’d sit there after practice, and he probably spent as much time visiting with Kareem (Canty) or Cinmeon (Bowers) or any of the other players as he did Antoine. And Anthony didn’t edit. He’d tell you what he thought.
”For some of those guys that did not have a father who would be here watching the games and encouraging them and criticizing them and challenging them, Anthony did that for a lot of those guys. That’s just who he was.”
He was also a voice of experience. Anthony Mason played for six NBA teams from 1989-2003, a bruising defensive force who was a protector for stars like Patrick Ewing.
Mason said early last week that his father wasn’t able to talk but responded by blinking or moving his head.
”It is rough,” he said then. ”I know the one thing he wants me to do is focus on the season. That is what I have been trying to do and try to find a joy.”
Auburn, which has lost four straight games by double digits, struggled in Mason’s absence against Texas A&M, losing 80-55
Texas A&M had a moment of silence before Saturday’s game, and the Aggies equipment staff stitched black ribbons on Auburn’s uniforms.
It was, Pearl said, ”really a very difficult day for Antoine and his family and our team.”