Five Auburn players scored in double figures led by Rasheem Barrett's 25 points, Korvotney Barber's 15 and Lucas Hargrove's 12 to lead the hot-shooting Tigers to an impressive 89-59 victory over Charleston Southern Monday before 3,817 in the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Buccaneers (2-2) scored the first five points of the game, but it was all Auburn (3-1) after that as the Tigers went on a 27-3 run to take a 27-8 lead nine minutes into the game. Auburn's lead continued to grow to 35-12 and 40-14 until reaching as much as 50-16 on a Larry Williams 3-pointer with 3:10 left in the half.
Auburn was shooting a torrid 70 percent from the field midway through the first half as the Tigers used a tenacious defense to force 13 turnovers and collect eight steals and five blocks in the game's first 20 minutes. In the first half, Charleston Southern shot 22 percent from the field and 17 percent from 3-point range after shooting 47 percent from the field and 42 percent from behind the arc in the team's previous three games.
The Tigers, who came into the game averaging 66.3 points, doubled up the Buccaneers leading 52-26 at the half as they shot 58 percent in the first half from the field, 42 percent from the field and a perfect 100 percent from the foul line. Auburn scored the most points in a half since scoring 52 in the second half of an 86-79 loss at Georgia last season.
"I thought other than the offensive rebounds, defensively that was as best as we could play," said Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "Our challenge this game was to get to their perimeter shooters because we knew that is how they could beat us. DeWayne Reed set the tone in the first five minutes of the game with how it was going to be."
The lead never dipped below 20 points in the second half. For the game, Auburn shot 57 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent (12-of-15) from the foul line while limiting CSU to 32 percent from the field and 20 percent from 3-point range. The Tigers finished with 16 steals and seven blocks and forced 23 turnovers.
"We just knew this was a road game, and we had to come out with fire," said Barrett. "We started it with DeWayne Reed. His energy carried us throughout the game. Reed's pressure on the ball and his steals and his talking got the defense motivated and energetic. The big thing is Coach told us to run our offense, and we got high percentage shots by running our offense instead of us taking it one on one."
Barrett shot 10-of-13 from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, Barber 6-of-8 from the field and Hargrove 6-of-10 from the field. Frank Tolbert and Reed each scored 11 points while Quantez Robertson, Barber and Hargrove had seven rebounds each. Reed also had a team-high four steals.
"You always want to play well in front of the home crowd," said Hargrove, who is from Pontiac, S.C., and was playing in front of 30 family members who made the 90-minute drive. "Coach told Matt Heramb and I we needed to step it up over the summer, and we have done that. You don't want to disappoint the home crowd."
Charleston Southern was led by Omar Carter's 16 points while Auburn held Jamarco Warren, who came in averaging a team-high 17.7 points, to only six points.
Auburn now has a 13-day break before playing at George Washington in the BB&T Classic Dec. 2 in the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.