Korvotney Barber scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half and Matt Heramb added 17, both career-highs, to lead Auburn to a 63-60 victory over Alabama State Friday night.
"It's a great win on the road in a tough environment," said AU head coach Jeff Lebo.
Barber and Heramb supplied all the scoring during a 14-3 run that gave the Tigers (2-1) their first lead in nearly 20 minutes and accounted for all but two of Auburn's 28 second-half points.
Heramb's dunk off a pass from Barber capped the dominant spurt to make it 59-52 with 3:49 to play.
"It just felt like everything I was shooting was going in," said Heramb. "We played great defense. They were a very good team but we just executed our plays.
Brandon Brooks answered with a 3-pointer and Alabama State (2-1) forced a shot-clock violation and another turnover. Then, Brandon Gordon's pull-up jumper made it 59-57 with 1:33 to play, but Barber darted through the lane for another basket and the Hornets missed three consecutive shots and had to foul.
Frank Tolbert hit two free throws with 11 seconds left for the Tigers, the only points scored by someone besides Barber and Heramb after the half.
Brooks hit another 3 with 2.6 seconds left and the Hornets were called for a foul before Auburn passed the ball inbounds. DeWayne Reed missed the free throw and Joel Bosh grabbed the rebound, dribbled a couple of times and threw up a long shot from behind halfcourt that bounced off the rim.
Barber made 11-of-14 shots and had 10 rebounds. Heramb was 6-for-7, including three 3-pointers, after scoring just two points in Auburn's first two games.
The rest of the team was just 7-of-29 shooting, including a 1-for-11 performance from Tolbert.
"Korvotney looked fresh and bouncy. He was everywhere on the offensive glass in the second half," said Lebo. "Matt has been getting better and we were just waiting for him to explode. He made some key jumpers from the top of the key in the second half."
Richard Lott and Brooks led the Hornets with 11 points apiece.
Alabama State led 39-35 at halftime and flirted with becoming the first Southwestern Athletic Conference team to beat Auburn in 11 tries.
The Hornets shot just 29 percent in the second half and were outrebounded 40-27, however.
Auburn hadn't made the 50-minute trek to the Capitol city for a game since an overtime win over Alabama in 1967.
The Tigers had just seven players available against the Hornets with Josh Dollard out for the year, Quan Prowell suspended the first five games, Archie Miaway academically ineligible for the first seven games and Boubacar Sylla injured. Sylla tried to play but could only go a minute on a sprained ankle.
Both Quantez Robertson and Reed logged 40 minutes.
"We came into a very tough situation very shorthanded," said Lebo. "To come in here against a much improved Alabama State team and win on the road is big. We knew this game was going to be hard if we had everybody."
Auburn will return to action Monday at Charleston Southern.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.