Bruce Pearl (above) makes a coaching point to freshman center Horace Spencer.
Auburn, Ala.- Cinmeon Bowers bounced back from a non-productive game vs. Colorado to post a double-double as Auburn cruised to a 92-62 basketball victory over Georgia Southern on Friday night at Auburn Arena.
The senior forward tied for a team-high 15 points and led the Tigers in rebounds with 13.
T.J. Dunans scored 15 for the Tigers, Kareem Canty scored 14 points and freshman Bryce Brown added 11 points in just six minutes playing time late in the contest.
Auburn improved to 2-1 while Georgia Southern fell to 1-2 after the Tigers out-shot the Eagles 49.2 percent to 31.1 percent.
“It was good to get our double-double guy back with Cim playing very effectively,” said Coach Bruce Pearl, who added. "He was much more focused."
For Bowers it was his first double-double since scoring 16 points and pulling in 17 rebounds vs. Mississippi State on Jan. 21st last season.
Cinmeon Bowers finished the game with 13 defensive rebounds.
Auburn led by just a point at halftime, but outscored the Eagles 55-26 in the second half.
“I just put the past two games behind me,” said Bowers. “I didn’t play well. You can’t dwell on the past. You move on and keep on pushing.”
Bowers, who said he has been spending extra time on his free throws in the evenings, was 9-13 at the foul line.
Auburn allowed Georgia Southern to hit just 23.3 percent of their shots in the second half.
“It was probably the best we played defensively so far,” Pearl said. “Obviously, Georgia Southern got tired in the second half, but we contested shots. We played well as a team defensively. We had to do a lot of switching. We had to rotate a lot when they broke us down.”
Auburn led most of the first half and built the advantage to double figures at 31-21 on a transition three-point shot from the wing by Tahj Shamsid-Deen at the 4:29 mark. Pearl had praise for the junior guard's play, especially on defense. Shamsid-Deen scored eight points while playing 16 minutes.
As was the case in the first two games of the regular season the Tigers faded in the final minutes of the opening period. The Eagles actually pulled ahead until a pair of free throws with eight seconds left by Canty put the Tigers back on top 37-36 at the break.
Halftime Numbers: Both teams shot 39 percent from the field. Auburn hit 5-14 threes while the Eagles made 6-17. Auburn hit 10-14 free throws and Georgia Southern made 6-7. Auburn held a 24-17 lead in rebounds, but hurt its cause with 10 turnovers, three more than the visitors. Canty led the Tigers in scoring with seven points.
The second half was a different story to the delight of a crowd of 7,806. After building the lead into double figures the Tigers kept the pressure on with good defense while making 58.1 percent of their field goals in the period. The Tigers helped their cause by making 15-19 free throws in the second half to finish with 25-33 for the game.
Pearl said he was impressed with the all-around play of Dunans, who hit 5-7 field goals while adding five assists, three blocks and one steal. "I thought he was a hard cover," Pearl said. "That is the kind of stat line you can look for from T.J. Dunans. He is sort of a stat stuffer...He was very engaged defensively. He was against UAB and it was a factor, and he knows he wasn't against Colorado. I think he really accepted coaching."
T.J. Dunans drives to the basket.
Dunans said he thought he improved in game three. “They have been on me lot about playing pressure defense and letting my man get into the middle so I can out here to try to prevent my man from getting to the middle.”
Dunans, a transfer from junior college, was asked what the Tigers did better in the second half. "I want to say we came out making the extra pass, we started moving the ball more and playing as a team more."
Worth Noting, Part 1: Bryce Brown hit 4-5 field goals and 3-4 treys in the closing minutes. “Bryce is our sniper,” said Bowers, who noted that Pearl is working with the freshman to get him playing better defense and up to speed understanding the offense. Pearl said, "Look what he did in six minutes. He is pretty good." For the night Auburn hit 9-24 threes while GSU hit 7-30.
Worth Noting, Part 2: Auburn outscored the Eagles 38-24 in points in the paint, 10-6 in second chance points, 19-12 in points off of turnovers and 15-4 in fastbreak points. AU's bench outscored GSU's bench 30-23.
Stat of the Game: Auburn blocked nine shots while the Eagles had just one.
The Tigers don’t play again until next Friday when they take on Northwestern State at 7:30 p.m. at Auburn Arena.