Newcomer Shareif Adamu hit both ends of a 1-1 with 36 seconds left and Frankie Sullivan, who led all scorers with 24 points despite playing with 25 stitches in his shooting arm, nailed both ends of a one-and-one with 17.5 seconds to ice the victory.
Auburn, which improved its record to 2-1, forced 19 College of Charleston turnovers while committing just nine themselves. That enabled the Tigers to overcome a 42-26 rebounding deficit and another cool night shooting the basketball.
Auburn hit just 35.8 percent of its field goals (19-53), but was solid on threes (6-17) and at the foul line (11-14).
The Cougars hit 38.3 percent of their field goals (18-47), 5-15 threes and 10-18 free throws.
Sullivan was 9-18 from the field, made 2-5 threes, 4-4 free throws and added five rebounds. "My team needed me to play and I wanted to play really bad," said the senior guard, who left the Thursday night game early vs. Murray State after crashing into a courtside sign going after a loose ball. He sent was sent to the emergency room of a local hospital for treatment.
"How tough is he?" Coach Tony Barbee said of the senior guard. "He is the heart and soul of our team. A guy who gets 25 stitches. I swear when I went over there to see what was going on with him (Thursday night) I almost fainted. It was deep now."
Frankie Sullivan launches a jump shot vs. College of Charleston.
Sullivan, who called his team's horrible first half on Thursday night vs. Murray State "embarrassing," came out hot to start the second half vs. College of Charleston on Friday night after the Tigers trailed by a point. He said that Barbee challenged him and point guard Josh Wallace to take charge on the floor.
"He told us we have two senior guards and we are supposed to dominate the game," Sullivan said. "I took that challenge on and when Josh Wallace came into the game he took that challenge."
Barbee confirmed Sullivan's comments and added, "At halftime I told Frankie you are the best player on the floor. You have to establish your will on the floor in the first four minutes of the half. He comes out and scored 14 of our first 16 points. I would call that establishing his will on the game."
Sullivan noted that he played despite some pain on Friday night. "My arm was throbbing the whole game, but I am used to pain," he said. "I have broken a lot of bones in my body. It is about the will, and it is not about the pain. It blocks it out when the adrenaline starts going so my adrenaline started going and the pain went away."
Barbee said the keys to the victory were "taking care of the basketball" and playing better defense. "We did those two things at a better level tonight."
The Auburn coach added, "We are going to be a work in progress on the offensive end of the floor. It is going to be all year long. We have got to get our younger guys going because offensively they can do some things and they struggled tonight."
Senior Noel Johnson scored 12 points for the Tigers and juco transfer Adamu had his first impact game with 11 points and three rebounds off the bench.
Auburn struggled with its shooting in the first half, but led much of the period due to good defense. The Tigers forced 11 first half turnovers while committing just two.
The Cougars jumped out to a 9-4 lead, but Auburn pulled ahead on a Noel Johnson three with at the 9:53 mark to go up 13-10. Johnson, who had 11 points in the first half, hit three treys in the period.
Auburn led by as much as five points in the half, but College of Charleston scored eight of the last 10 points before the break to take a 23-22 halftime lead.
The Tigers made just 8-31 (25.4 percent) of their first half shots while the Cougars were 9-21 (42.9) percent. College of Charleston out-rebounded Auburn 21-12 in the first half.
Auburn led almost the entire second half, but was unable to shake the home team. Adam's two free throws with 45.7 seconds left put the Tigers up 52-47 and Sullivan's made the game 54-49.
Up Next: Auburn will play Dayton on Sunday at 1 p.m. CST in the final game of the Charleston Classic. The Flyers defeated Boston College 87-71 on Friday and bring a 2-1 record into the game