T.J. Dunans (above) led the Auburn offensive assault.
Auburn, Ala.- -The Auburn Tigers launched 32 three-pointers and nailed 17 of them as they cruised to a 119-81 basketball victory over the Northwestern State Demons on Friday night at Auburn Arena. The Tigers finished one short of the school record for threes set on Nov. 19, 2004 vs. Temple.
Six Tigers scored in double figures led by T.J. Dunans, who nailed 4-6 threes on the way to finishing with 20 points.
Cinmeon Bowers posted a double-double with 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds as Auburn dominated the rebounding statistic 45-24.
Kareem Canty also posted a double-double with 17 points and 10 assists while turning the ball over just one time. The junior guard added six rebounds.
Tyler Harris scored 18 points for the Tigers, who improved to 3-1, while Bryce Brown added 15 points off the bench and T.J. Lang scored a dozen.
Tyler Harris attacks the rim for the Tigers.
The Tigers shot well in the first half, but hit a scorching 69.7 percent in the second half, including 11-16 from three-point range. For the game they made 58.1 percent of their field goals while the visitors made 43.5 percent.
Bruce Pearl was able to empty his bench on a fun evening for a crowd of 8,529 at Auburn Arena, which watched the Tigers overcome a sloppy start. Northwestern State, which defeated Auburn two years ago in the only previous game between the teams, fell to 1-5 for the season.
Harris, who hit eight of his 10 field goals, attributed the slow start to Thanksgiving and a week-long layoff from competition, but Pearl wasn’t pleased. “The turnovers were extremely troubling,“ the coach pointed out.
“Our attention and focus leaves a lot to be desired,” he added.
The coach also expressed his concern about the health of junior guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen , whose shoulder popped out of joint again, something that forced him to have two surgeries earlier this year. Pearl said that Shamsid-Deen will meet with Dr. James Andrews on Saturday for an evaluation.
However, there were positives for the Tigers, according to Pearl. “I do like how hard the kids played and how they played together,” he said. “I do like our potential.”
Pearl also said, “This year’s team has a much higher ceiling than last year’s team. We have more offensive playmakers.”
Bruce Pearl (right) and referee Mike Nance discuss their difference of opinion.
One of those playmakers, juco transfer Dunans, said he has been working on his shooting and that showed. He hit 8-12 field goals while adding three assists. “I just came out and tried to be more aggressive,” he said.
The Tigers got off to a sluggish start and trailed 9-2 less than five minutes into the game. The Tigers tied the contest at 9-9 on a free throw by Horace Spencer at the 13:16 mark and took the lead for good at 22-20 on a layup by Bowers at the 7:25 mark.
Halftime Numbers: The Tigers were on top 37-27 at intermission with Bowers leading the way with 14 points and seven rebounds as the senior forward hit 5-7 field goals and 3-3 free throws.
As a team the Tigers hit 16-35 field goals (45.7 percent), 6-16 threes and 9-11 free throws in the first half. Northwestern State hit 12-31 field goals (38.7 percent), 3-12 threes and 10-11 free throws with Zeek Woodley scoring 12 points. Woodley led all scorers for the game with 29 points.
The key first half stat was Auburn’s 26-12 rebounding advantage that negated sloppy ball-handing by the Tigers, who turned the ball over 14 times in the period while the Demons were guilty of 11 turnovers. For the game the Tigers had 17 turnovers, three more than the Demons.
The second half featured domination by the home team, which outscored the Demons 72-44 in the period. Auburn’s 72 second half points are the third most points scored in a half in school history. (The Tigers scored 78 points in the first half vs. Troy State on Dec. 11, 1991, and scored 73 vs. Troy State in the second half on Dec. 9, 1993.) The 119 poitns were the most for the Tigers in a game since the 1991 contest vs. Troy.
Commenting on his team's slow start, Pearl said, “How much of it was the week off How much of it was the day off yesterday with Thanksgiving? How much of it was a depleted opponent? How much of it was us? There are a lot of different that you can look at it. We were really good in transition and you can see, when the game gets going, that we have some weapons. Our execution in the half court, particularly on offense in the first half, was awful.”
Harris, who noted that he enjoyed playing in front of the lively crowd, said, "We haven't played in about a week so it's been some time getting back in the game rhythm. We started off a little slow, but we were able to pick it up in the second half and were moving the ball a lot better and playing more as a team. It was great that we got to pick that up in the second half."
Worth Noting: New Williams returned from his knee injury and played eight minutes. The freshman guard scored three points and made one steal.
Worth Noting, Part 2: The Tigers used 15 players, but Devin Waddell was not one of them as he continues to recover from a concussion.
Worth Noting, Part 3: Tahj Shamsid-Deen left the game in the first half and finished with three points in nine minutes after reinjuring his shoulder and did not return.
Worth Noting, Part 4: Udoka Azubuike , a 6-10, 275-pound high school senior from Potter’s House Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Fla., watched the action. The four-star recruit is considering the Tigers.
Worth Noting, Part 5: The last time the Tigers put six players in double figures for scoring was during a 95-75 victory over Georgia Southern on Jan. 2, 2010.
Worth Noting, Part 6: AU's 38-point victory tonight is its largest margin of victory since defeating Grambling State 92-42 on Dec. 11, 2012.
Stat of the Game: On a night with plenty of interesting numbers, Auburn’s 11-16 on second half three-pointers really stood out.
Up Next: The Tigers will play on Wednesday at Coastal Carolina. Tipoff in Charleston, S.C., is set for 6 p.m. CST.