Denson, Griffin Lead AU In Exhibition Game

The Auburn men's basketball team cruised to a victory in The Bahamas in their first exhibition game.

Nassau, The Bahamas--Junior two guard Chris Denson scored a team-high 24 points as the Auburn men's basketball team took a 99-63 exhibition game victory on Tuesday night vs. the Real Deal Shockers.

The Tigers also got a 20-point game from newcomer Chris Griffin, a juco transfer from Wabash College in Illinois.

Coach Tony Barbee's Tigers took control of the contest early, breaking out to a 63-31 lead at halftime thanks to 10 treys. Five of the three-pointers came from Griffin and Denson scored 21 of his points prior to intermission.

"We have a lot of scoring pop everywhere," Barbee said. "Chris Griffin is a guy is a guy that really can shoot the ball from range, hitting six threes tonight and that's why we recruited him. He can really space the floor. If you leave him open it's pretty much a layup.

"Chris Denson, is it really a surprise that he went for over 20? You put him in a street game in the park or you put him in a regular game like this and he has the ability to put 20 or more on the board every night."

Denson doubled his 2012-13 average scoring total in the exhibition game. The lefty is the team's leading returning scorer.

"It was great playing other competition," Denson said. "We got to beat up on someone else instead of each other. We worked on a lot of things--defense, execution and it was good to get out there and play.

"We have many players that could have that hot hand." Denson said. "Chris and I had it tonight, but tomorrow night it could be Tahj (Shamsid-Deen) and K.T. (Harrell)."

Playing with international rules that feature quarters instead of halves, the Tigers outscored the home team 35-11 in the second quarter to take command of the contest.

"It was real fun tonight," Griffin said. "We have been working so hard this summer. For me personally I haven't played Division I basketball in three years so I was just happy to be out here, especially with these guys. I was on early and I felt good. My teammates did a great job of finding me."

Auburn was up 28-20 at the end of the first quarter before busting out for 35 second quarter points while holding the Real Deal Shockers to just 11 points in the quarter.

Juco transfer point guard Malcolm Canada scored 11 points and freshman point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen added nine points.

Harrell, a transfer from Virginia and freshman forward/center Benas Griciunas, each scored eight points for the Tigers as did senior forward Allen Payne.

Freshman post player Mathew Atewe chipped in with five points while center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum, sophomore forward Jordon Granger and freshman forward Alex Thompson added two points apiece. Freshman Dion Wade and walk-on C.J. Holmes played but did not score.

"These guys have had a very productive summer and they have worked their tails off in the weight room," Barbee said of his team. "Ten extra days of practice are going to be invaluable as we look ahead to the real season. As the first official unofficial game I am pleased with where we are.

"As I told the guys in the locker room, we were sloppy in a lot of areas in our execution, we were sloppy with our passing, but if we will play that hard and sacrifice and play for each other the way we did tonight for the rest of the year, we have a chance to be pretty good."

The Tigers will return to action on Thursday in Nassau in a game vs. The Bahamas All-Stars. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CDT.

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