Guards Shine In 109-67 Exhibition Game Win

The Auburn men's basketball team shot close to 60 percent as the Tigers defeated Victory University in a preseason exhibition game.

Auburn, Ala.--Five Auburn players scored in double figures led by 21 points from senior guard Chris Denson as the Tigers cruised to a 109-67 exhibition basketball win over Victory University on Monday night.

Denson hit 9-15 field goals while adding seven rebounds and four assists in 26 minutes for the Tigers as they made 59.7 percent of their shots.

"Scoring is not going to be a problem for us this year," said Denson.

"I think we looked good for our first exhibition game," said Denson, who is Auburn's leading returning scorer. "The chemistry is strong. I would say it is the strongest it has been in the four years I have been here."

Freshman point guard Tajh Shamsid-Deen scored 16 points in 16 minutes of playing time while adding four assists with no turnovers. The lefty hit 4-5 three-pointers as the Tigers made 10-27 treys.

Tajh Shamsid-Deen (right) hit 6-8 field goals vs. Victory University.

Auburn's other newcomer at point guard, juco transfer Malcolm Canada, scored nine points while adding nine assists with just one turnover in 23 minutes of court time.

Auburn's point guards combined to produce a 13-1 assist/turnover ratio and hit 10 of their 14 field goals.

"No knock on Josh Wallace, but the point guard play increased this year with Tajh and Malcolm," Denson said. "They have just been a big contributor for us. They both facilitate the ball for us and as you can see Tajh can shoot and Malcolm is a facilitator.

Freshman center Benas Griciunas came off the bench to add 15 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes. Junior guard K.T. Harrell and senior center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum added 14 points apiece.

"The new guys are wonderful," Denson added. "Benas with the international game he has in the low post is going to help us out a lot. I am really excited."

Coach Tony Barbee pointed out that he liked what he saw from the Tigers. "I thought we played extremely hard and I thought we looked like we were having a ton of fun out there playing together. That is what this team about.

"This group has really bought into sacrificing for the whole and giving up that individual glory knowing that we have enough pieces in that room if we play for each other that a lot of special things can happen for this team," he added.

Barbee said the chemistry was good on the summer exhibition tour to The Bahamas and that has carried over into the preseason. "They love each other and they care about each other, and they want each man to do well," the coach noted. "And they are worried about that, not their own, and I think shows up in how we share the ball."

Tyrell Hursey and Michael Davis scored 20 points apiece to the Eagles, who were 2-0 coming into the contest. Victory hit just 30.3 percent of its shots and was 9-31 on threes and 18-29 at the foul line.

Auburn held a 51-33 rebounding edge.

At the Half:

Denson led the Tigers at intermission with 11 points, five rebounds and four assists in 14 minutes of action. Harrell was next with 10 points while Asahun Dixon-Tatum and Dion Wade added eight points apiece while Griciunas contributed seven points.

The Tigers hit 58.8 percent of their field goals, including 5-12 treys. Auburn made 11-16 free throws in the half.

The Eagles hit 23.3 percent of their field goals and were 4-14 from the field and 13-20 at the foul line.

Auburn held a 27-16 rebounding edge at the break.

Worth Noting, Part 1: For the game the Tigers had a 25-10 assist to turnover ratio. Barbee said he liked what the point guards did. "Those two together really play well off of each other and they both bring something different to the floor," he said of Shamsid-Deen and Canada.

Malcolm Canada handles the basketball for the Tigers.

"They both can really pass the ball and they both are very cerebral players so they know how to take care of the ball. They know what I want. When you look at their assist to turnover numbers those are unbelievable. We will take that every night if I can get them."

Worth Noting, Part 2: Freshman center Matthew Attewe was out with a leg injury, but is expected to play in exhibition game two. Barbee said that Attewe probably could have played, but the coaching staff decided to be "cautious" with the 6-9, 250-pound freshman.

The Tigers return to action for their final exhibition game on Friday as they play host to Paine College, a Division II program from SIAC. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. The regular season opener is Nov. 8th at home vs. Nicholls State.

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