Auburn, Ala.--Auburn came out sizzling from the field and the visiting Golden Lions never had a chance as Coach Tony Barbee’s Tigers took a 91-59 basketball victory on Monday night at Auburn Arena.
The Tigers hit 20-27 field goals in the first half to build a 53-25 lead at intermission. Auburn hit 6-9 three-pointers in the opening 20 minutes with K.T. Harrell leading the way making all three of his first half treys.
After shooting 74.1 percent the first half the Tigers “cooled off” to shoot 56.0 percent the rest of the way to finish at 65.4 percent for the game, the best shooting performance of the Barbee Era at Auburn. For the game the Tigers hit 10-19 threes.
K.T. Harrell continued his streak of good shooting games on Monday night as he made 7-9 field goals.
Harrell led the Tigers in scoring with 19 points. He made 4-6 threes and 7-10 free throws while adding four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Senior guard Chris Denson scored 17 points as he made 5-9 field goals and dished out four assists.
Dion Wade came off the bench to score a season-high 15 points in 18 minutes. The freshman guard from Belgium was 4-5 from the field and made all four of his treys while adding two assists and two steals.
Wade said good play from the reserves has helped boost the team’s confidence as the Tigers won a third consecutive game. “The bench will hype you up and if the bench hypes you up the crowd will get loud, too,” he said. “That brings a lot of confidence.”
One of the most impressive performers was freshman point guard Tajh Shamsid-Deen. He hit 4-6 shots and dished out eight assists with no turnovers. The little lefty led the Tigers in steals with three and delighted his teammates by blocking a shot.
“He just doesn’t look like a freshman out there,” Barbee said. “He plays with a lot of poise and a lot of confidence. He knows what I want and he goes out there and does it.”
Tajh Shamsid-Deen scores vs. the Golden Lions.
Another freshman who played 18 minutes, Matthew Atewe, hit 2-3 shots and scored seven points. The six-foot-nine post player led the Tigers in rebounds with seven and blocked shots with three.
For the game the Tigers out-rebounded the visitors 41-29. Atewe said that the head coach challenged his players to attack the boards in the second half.
“In the first half we did a bad job of rebounding,” Atewe said. “In the second half we did a much better job in that regard.”
On a night Barbee was able to substitute early and often, the only major negative was the team’s 21 turnovers, one more than Arkansas-Pine Bluff committed. Harrell with five, Denson with four and Malcolm Canada with four were the biggest offenders.
Tevin Hammond led Golden Lions with 19 points while Devon Haynes had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Auburn improved to 8-3 with the victory while the visitors from the SWAC dropped to 2-10.
Auburn held the Golden Lions to just 32.8 percent shooting for the game. “I thought we swarmed,” Barbee said of his team’s defense. “I thought we did a good job of not worrying about who our competition was and worrying about where we could get better and I thought defensively we did a pretty good job overall.”
Stat of the Game: The Tigers made 52.6 percent of their three-pointers by drilling 10 of their 19 treys.
Worth Noting: Sophomore Jordon Granger was not with the team. Barbee issued a statement saying the 6-8 forward is taking a leave of absence. “Jordon is taking times to focus on aspects of his life other than basketball,” Barbee said. “Jordon remains a part of the Auburn men's basketball family and we hope to have him back with us soon.”
Worth Noting, Part 2: Auburn's bench produced 32 points, 22 rebounds, seven blocked shots and five steals.
The Tigers return to action on Saturday with a 7 p.m. home game vs. Florida A&M.
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