Auburn, Ala.--Four, three and two were key numbers as the Auburn basketball Tigers defeated Winthrop 80-62 on Wednesday night.
Four Tigers scored in double figures, three was the length of Auburn’s losing streak that was snapped and two was the number of categories that Cinmeon Bowers reached with double figures totals.
A junior forward, Bowers scored 19 points and pulled in 17 rebounds to lead the Tigers. He hit 8-13 field goals, was 3-9 at the foul line, pulled in four offensive rebounds and 13 defensive rebounds while adding three assists with one steal and four turnovers in 27 minutes.
Asked what was working for him vs. the Eagles, Bowers said, “I don’t know. I just played my heart out. Coming from a three-game losing streak, I just wanted to win and do whatever it takes.”
Cinmeon Bowers posted his sixth double-double of the season through nine games.
Nine Auburn players scored points and 11 saw action. “That is what we need,” Harrell said. “We need everybody to contribute. It can’t just be two or three guys. Even if it is not scoring it can be rebounding, finding somebody an open shot, steals, charges or whatever it is.”
Harrell, who led the Tigers in minutes played with 29, said, “It feels good to win, but we can’t be satisfied. I don’t think this team is satisfied. It does feel good, especially coming off a three-game losing streak.
Winthrop, which got 17 points from Tevin Prescott, dropped to 4-5.
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said, “These kids deserve to feel a little better about themselves with the win because it has been a struggle.” He noted that he has been working the team hard since fall semester exams ended to get Mason back into the playing rotation while getting newcomer Trayvon Reed and sophomore Alex Thompson up to speed in learning their assignments after they joined the team on Saturday.
The Tigers never trailed but led just 42-40 following an 8-2 run by the Eagles to start the second half. After Pearl called a timeout the Tigers went on a 14-4 run to build the lead into double figures at 56-44 following a trey by Harrell. After that Auburn was never threatened.
Pearl said the Tigers were able to pull away in the second half by scoring in transition and picking up their rebounding as well as playing better defensively. He also noted the team got help from a variety of players. “The good thing about that locker room is there are 10 or 11 guys feeling good about themselves who know they contributed,” he said.
At the Half: The Tigers led 40-32 despite being out-rebounded 26-21. Auburn hit 13-30 field goals, 3-7 threes and 11-18 free throws. The Eagles made 13-37 field goals, 2-14 threes and 4-10 free throws. Harrell led the Tigers with 11 points in the half while Bowers scored eight points while adding seven rebounds. Auburn led by as much as 14 points in the period while the visitors never led in the half although they cut the Tigers’ lead to 31-30.
Season Debut: Sophomore forward Alex Thompson entered the game early in the first half for his first playing time since last season. He played 15 minutes and hit 2-9 field goals, 1-2 threes, 3-4 free throws on the way to scoring eight points. He was second on the team in rebounds with eight.
Seven-Footer: After struggling in his first game vs. Clemson, center Trayvon Reed pulled in eight rebounds, scored two points and blocked two shots in 12 minutes. "It was great that Trayvon Reed could come in and get us eight rebounds and a couple of blocks," Pearl said. "I see that there is something there and it is going to be fun to watch him over the next couple of years and this season."
Cartoon-Like: Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey compared Bowers to Spongebob SquarePants. "He is as wide as he is tall," the coach said. Kelsey noted the Eagles had to adjust their defense to contain the power forward, which opened up looks for other Auburn players.
Oh, Canada!: Senior Malcolm Canada scored five points and did not have a turnover in 16 minutes of action. "We got better point guard play tonight," Pearl said. " Malcolm had five assists, no turnovers and a big three in the second half. K.C. (Ross-Miller) was three (assists) and one (turnover). We took better care of the basketball. We worked hard on the offensive this week. To score 80 and have 16 assists and 11 turnovers, it’s just much more normal looking.”
Stat of the Game: Winthrop relies heavily on its three-point shooting, something the Tigers did a good job of containing. The visitors made just 4-27 treys while Auburn hit 7-19.
More Numbers: Auburn shot 44.3 percent from the field hitting 27-61 field goals while the Eagles hit 24-70 for 34.3 percent. Auburn was 19-34 at the foul line while Winthrop made 10-23.
Auburn held a 49-47 edge in reboundings and each team turned the ball over 11 times.
Fastbreak: Auburn held a 12-2 advantage in fastbreak points, a point of emphasis for Pearl in practice this week. Auburn also enjoyed a 17-8 advantage in points from non-starters.
Worth Noting: With classes out of session and a late start the smallest crowd of the year, 5,323, watched the game. Pearl saw he hopes the next game will be a sellout. “The best team we have seen so far, Xavier, is going to be in here on Saturday,” he said. The Tigers and Musketeers will tip off at 5 p.m. CST.