Tigers Cruise to Victory In Exhibition Game

Auburn improved to 2-0 in exhibition games as the defense led the Tigers to a comfortable win.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's quickness and full-court pressure defense forced 29 turnovers as Coach Tony Barbee's Tigers cruised to an 83-47 exhibition basketball victory over Victory University on Saturday night.

The visiting Eagles managed to make just 24.1 percent of their field goal goals while Auburn hit 42.3 percent from the field led by 16 points apiece from guards Chris Denson and Frankie Sullivan.

"I thought we played well," Barbee said. "I like where we are in a lot of different facets of the game. I like our intensity. I like our defensive pressure. We just have to be more consistent, possession by possession, playing that hard.

"You can't have four guys playing at a certain level defensively and one guy who breaks you down because he is not playing at the same level so we have to clean that up as we look forward to next Friday," the coach said.

"Defensively, I like where we are," Barbee said. "I like the press we have got in place because it is making us more aggressive on the defensive end of the floor.

"We have got to be better offensively, but we are working in a lot of new pieces from last year," he said. "You have got a lot of guys who are shot-makers who are not making shots right now so guys have got to get in there on their own time to get better.

"One thing I like is we have got a lot of depth," Barbee said. "We can play small, big and in-between. When you have that many interchangeable parts you are able to stay fresh and play harder for a longer period of time."

Frankie Sullivan

Sullivan said Auburn's two exhibition victories will help the Tigers get ready for the regular season. "Both of the teams we played against were good teams and they competed hard," the junior guard said.

"I played okay in this game, but I am still not satisfied with myself," Sullivan added. "My defense is not where I want it to be. That is something I thrive on more than scoring points."

Forwards Allen Payne and Kenny Gabriel chipped in 10 points apiece for the Tigers while Gabriel led all rebounders with nine.

Mario Jones led Victory with 11 points. "I felt like we could have played better," he said. "It is a learning experience. We are a young team so it's experience."

The Tigers jumped to a quick lead, but went cold allowing the Eagles to tie the game at 7-7 at the 13:43 mark.

Sullivan then hit a three-point field goal, two free throws and a layup to quickly stretch the lead to 14-7 and the home team was never threatened after that.

Auburn's full-court pressure defense contributed to 16 first half turnovers for the visitors that helped the Tigers build a 40-16 lead at intermission.

The Eagles made just 4-25 field goals in the first half for a cool 16.0 percent shooting percentage.

Auburn, which had its own problem with turnovers committing 11 in the first half and 18 for the game, shot 45.9 percent in the first half. Denson and Sullivan led the scorers at the break with 10 apiece.

Both teams struggled from distance in the first half. Auburn made just 1-8 threes while Victory hit 2-7.

Auburn outscored the Eagles 43-31 in the second half as Barbee cleared the bench and played everyone who was available.

Denson noted the pressure defense was effective on Saturday night. "We have a new press attack that causes turnovers and gets us out and running," he said.

New Starting Lineup: Rob Chubb, Chris Denson and Frankie Sullivan repeated as starters from the first exhibition game. The other two spots featured different starters as Allen Payne and Josh Wallace rounded out the lineup.

In the Tuesday exhibition vs. Paine College the Tigers started Varez Ward and Kenny Gabriel.

Injury List: Freshman Cedrick McAfee suffered a foot injury in practice and was held out of the game. Barbee said the guard should be ready to practice on Monday.

Nice Move: Freshman Willy Kouassi is known for his rebounding. An athletic first half rebound in traffic followed by an acrobatic shot that he banked in for two points was the most impressive play of the first half. Kouassi pulled in eight rebounds in 21 minutes of action.

Still Missing: Senior guard Tony Neysmith and sophomore forward Josh Langford were suspended prior to the first exhibition game. Neither player was dressed for Saturday's contest. Barbee said neither player has completed the tasks he has required for them to be able to play in games.

Forgot The Package: Kenny Gabriel, who won the team's slam dunk contest, soared high for an uncontested slam on a breakaway, but the ball slipped out of his hand on the way up to the basket.

Bernard Morena

Bernard Morena: The freshman forward from Central Park Christian in Birmingham missed the first exhibition game with an ankle injury, but saw action late in the the victory over Victory. Morena looked rusty as he missed both of his field goals and turned the ball over three times in six minutes of action.

Walk-on Night: Guards Dylan Spencer and T.J. Rice got to see their first game action of the season.

Numbers of Note: Ward had five of Auburn's 16 steals in the contest while Sullivan and Denson had three apiece.

Numbers of Note, Part 2: Auburn struggled with its three-point shooting. The Tigers made just 4-21 while Victory hit 8-22.

Visitors' Assessment: Victory University head coach Scott Robinson said his team was over-matched by Auburn's athletic ability. "Coach Barbee's going to do a great job here at Auburn," he said. "I worked for him at the University of Memphis and he's going to bring in talent. The future is bright here at Auburn. He does a great job and he is going to get the players to play hard."

Add Another "C": Auburn's opponent, Victory University from Memphis, is a member of the National Christian College Conference, the NCCAA, while the Tigers play in the NCAA. Auburn's first exhibition opponent, Paine College, competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, which is known as the NAIA.

Victory Story: Victory University is a small liberal arts, Christian-based college of 700 students that was formerly known as Crichton College.

Up Next: The Tigers will play for keeps on Friday as McNeese State comes to the Auburn Arena for a 7 p.m. tipoff for the regular season.

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