Jared Harper (above) scored five points and added two assists for the Tigers.
Auburn, Ala.--In his collegiate debut Mustapha Heron showed why he was a five-star recruit as he scored 26 points and pulled in six rebounds as his Auburn team cruised to a 96-68 exhibition basketball victory over Montevallo.
The six-foot-five guard hit 9-12 field goals, 3-5 three-pointers, 5-6 free throws and made three steals to the delight of a crowd of 8,187 at Auburn Arena.
Mustapha Heron scores on a breakaway after a steal.
"I just tried to go out, be aggressive and have fun,” said Heron, who got a surprise in pre-game when his father arrived in Auburn to see him play. His father was on a coaching trip to Memphis and decided to make the six-hour drive to Auburn even though it meant an all-nighter on the return.
Heron said he didn't think having his dad there necessarily inspired him to play better, but noted he was glad to have him at the game.
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl agreed. "It was kind of neat for him to be here," said Pearl, who kept his team in the locker room for an hour after the game to lecture them about how they played vs. Montevallo.
"I thought we did some good things," he said. "We turned the ball over too much. When you play fast sometimes you play sloppy and I thought that was the case some tonight.
"You can certainly see the pieces," he said. "There are some really, really talented young men who have a chance to be really good players and we have a chance to be a really good team. I thought Montevallo played hard, but obviously they were out-manned. I hope our scrimmage against Chattanooga and our game against Montevallo are enough to get us ready for North Florida."
Another player making his collegiate debut, redshirt freshman forward Danjel Purifoy, scored 19 points for the Tigers. He hit 3-7 field goals and 10-11 free throws.
"He really can score and Danjel is a really good teammate," Pearl said. "It was 26 months ago when he committed to come to Auburn. It was August 22nd of 2014--it has been a long time coming. It tells you sometimes how long it takes to build a program...Offensively, he will give people problems. Defensively, he is not a power forward and he is playing at that position so we are going to have to rebound the ball as a team and make up for what we lack in size."
Sophomore guard Bryce Brown chipped in with 14 points and senior guard T.J. Dunans added 11 points.
Auburn hit 49.2 percent of its field goals and was 14-32 on three-pointers while making 22-26 free throws.
The visiting Falcons hit 41.4 percent of their field goals, were 7-23 on threes and 13-24 at the foul line.
Auburn held a 42-31 edge in rebounds.
Both team struggled with turnovers. Auburn finished with 18 and Montevallo had 20.
Javonte Douglas scored 22 points for Montevallo.
"We have got so many things we have got to learn as a young team," Pearl said in explaining his extra long postgame talk to his players. "I wanted to go through all of those things. We are playing 10 guys so blending 10 players together and so many new pieces. They have never played together in front of anybody until tonight. It is very, very new, but I thought our effort was good. I thought our pressure was good.
"I don't think we played as well tonight as we did last weekend (at Chattanooga) so you don't like to step back," the coach said. "I did think the starters in this game did play better than the bench more than I would like. I would like for it, and I think it will, be a little closer when we go to the bench."
Worth Noting, Part 1: Freshman forward Anfernee McLemore scored eight points and added five rebounds in his collegiate debut.
Worth Noting, Part 2: Pearl played 14 players in the exhibition game and 11 Tigers scored.
Worth Noting, Part 3: Auburn outscored the Falcons 28-22 in the points in the paint statistic and 12-6 in fast break points.
Stat of the Game: Auburn hit 84.6 percent of its 26 free throws.
Up Next: The Tigers open the regular season next Friday with an 8:30 p.m. CDT tipoff vs. North Florida.